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Parents smoking at youth football matches prompts campaign urging them to stub out on the sidelines

PUBLISHED: 14:39 13 July 2017

Fakenham Youth is the first club in Norfolk to sign up to the Smoke Free Sidelines campaign. Fakenham under 7s players are pictured with their manager Chris Cracknell and Norfolk FA chairman Michael Banham. Picture:  TIM CURTIS.

Fakenham Youth is the first club in Norfolk to sign up to the Smoke Free Sidelines campaign. Fakenham under 7s players are pictured with their manager Chris Cracknell and Norfolk FA chairman Michael Banham. Picture: TIM CURTIS.

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Parents are being urged to stub it out on the sidelines in a new campaign aimed at making youth football pitches across Norfolk smoke free zones.

Fakenham Town Youth has become the first club in Norfolk to sign up to the Smoke Free Sidelines campaign.  Fakenham under 7s  players are pictured with Norfolk FA chairman Michael Banham. Picture: REBECCA BURTON. Fakenham Town Youth has become the first club in Norfolk to sign up to the Smoke Free Sidelines campaign. Fakenham under 7s players are pictured with Norfolk FA chairman Michael Banham. Picture: REBECCA BURTON.

Smoke Free Sidelines highlights how children copy adult behaviour.

The campaign has not been prompted by a noticeable rise in people smoking at youth football pitches, but is part of a wider drive to improve health in the county.

It draws attention to NHS research, claiming one in six people in Norfolk are smokers, 40pc of smokers started aged 16 or under and tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the county.

The campaign is being run by the NHS and Smoke Free Norfolk in partnership with Norfolk Football Association.

Fakenham Town Youth is the first club to sign up.

Tracy Williams, chairman of NHS Norwich CCG, said: “Children are influenced by what they see, they copy what adults do and young people are most at risk of becoming smokers 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.”

The campaign encourages club members and visitors to refrain from smoking indoors and outdoors, anywhere on site, including all playing fields and especially the pitch side lines.

Clubs signing up receive flags, banners, t-shirts, free training and more.

Norfolk FA chairman Michael Banham said: “The statistics send a clear message and I’m glad Norfolk FA can be a part of a drive to reduce the number of smokers in the county, in particular those starting at a young age.”

James Wade, from Smoke Free Norfolk, said: “Around 35pc of children who smoke start around the age of 12 with 90pc of those children starting smoking because a family member does or because they feel peer pressure from friends.”

Campaigners say they are not aiming to unfairly target smokers but promote sports clubs as places where health is a priority.

For more about the Smoke Free Sidelines project, email Marketing@NorfolkFA.com

For help quitting smoking, find Smoke Free Norfolk online or call 0800 0854 113.

Stastics from the Smoke Free Sidelines campaign:

. Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in Norfolk.

. Approximately one in six people in Norfolk are smokers.

. Children who grow up with a parent or family member who smokes are three times more likely to start smoking themselves.

. Forty per cent of smokers started the habit aged 16 or under.

. Eighty five Norwich play parks became voluntary smoke free zones in August 2016. Parks in Breckland and Broadland have also adopted the concept.

. Second hand smoke has been proven to be 85pc more toxic than smoking and is full of toxic chemicals which can cause cancer and other lung or heart diseases.

. Smoking can cause cancer of the mouth, throat, voice box, oesophagus, bladder, kidney, liver, pancreas and stomach, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia.

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