#SmokefreeSidelines is a new initiative with the aspiration to prevent smoking tobacco in football environments being seen as normal. It aims to encourage spectators to refrain from smoking pitchside and near playing areas, where impressionable children and young people can see it.
The campaign was launched in July at Norfolk FA’s largest tournament - The FDC Youth Cup, by NHS Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Smokefree Norfolk and Norfolk FA, with the support from Norfolk District Councils. In the last two months 12 clubs have signed up to become a ‘Champion’ of the scheme for their district. Fakenham Town FC were the first club to get involved in the project, flying the flag for North Norfolk, with Horsford Youth and Aylsham following up for the Broadland District.
Promotion since the launch has seen the number of clubs increase to double figures, with each district of the county having a presence in their area ahead of this weekend’s Youth Football season openers:
Clubs currently involved in Smokefree Sidelines for 17/18:
Fakenham Town FC (North Norfolk)
Horsford Youth FC (Broadland)
Aylsham FC (Broadland)
Shouldham Youth FC (King’s Lynn & West Norfolk)
Thetford Town FC (Breckland)
Dereham Town Youth FC (Breckland)
Thetford Rovers FC (Breckland)
Old Catton JFC (Norwich)
Cringleford FC (Norwich)
Scole United FC (South Norfolk)
Gorleston Rangers FC (Gt. Yarmouth)
Gorleston FC (Gt. Yarmouth)
Watch a video of the launch of #smokefreesidelines here: https://youtu.be/7Cz7Nk_zc8k
With the chosen clubs being provided with a range of free merchandise including pitchside flags, t-shirts and banners thanks to funding from each of the District Councils, it is hoped that each of the Norfolk clubs will be able to spread the word throughout the season and play their part in making football a healthier place for all involved.
The Chair of NHS Norwich CCG, Tracy Williams, said: “Children are influenced by what they see, they copy what adults do and young people are most at risk of becoming smokers themselves if they grow up in communities where smoking is the norm.
"The most effective way to prevent young people from becoming smokers is to encourage adult smokers to quit and to remove young people’s exposure to smoking.”
Norfolk FA Chairman, Michael Banham said: “We at Norfolk FA are delighted that so many clubs have come forward to get involved in a project that can have a real positive impact on the lives of Norfolk’s youth footballers.
“We are hopeful that the fantastic response we have seen this season will only increase awareness, resulting in more clubs getting involved in 2018 and less children being exposed to smoking.”
Smokefree Norfolk is the NHS service that helps people quit and also reduce the number of people starting smoking in the first place. James Wade, from Smokefree Norfolk, added: “Around 35% of children who smoke start around the age of 12 years with 90% of those children starting smoking because a family member does or because they feel peer pressure from their friends.
Being a smoke free club is not about unfairly targeting smokers. Rather, it is about promoting Norfolk Football clubs as healthy and inclusive places, where the wellbeing of all, and particularly children and young people, is a priority.