Smokefree Sidelines campaign kicks off in Bucks

Local football clubs invited to sign up for scheme aimed at stopping youngsters from taking up smoking
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The Smokefree Sidelines campaign has launched in Bucks, in a bid to stop young people taking up smoking.

The campaign aims to discourage spectators from smoking or vaping at local youth football matches.

Started in Norfolk in 2017, Smokefree Sidelines has been adopted by local authorities and football associations across the country.

Smokefree Sidelines at Holmer Green FCSmokefree Sidelines at Holmer Green FC
Smokefree Sidelines at Holmer Green FC

Now Buckinghamshire Council and Berks & Bucks FA have teamed up to roll out the campaign to local football clubs in Bucks.

On February 13, Holmer Green FC became the first local football club in Bucks to start promoting the Smokefree Sidelines campaign.

Using posters, car stickers and banners provided by Buckinghamshire Council with the tagline ‘We copy what we see, let’s make our sport smoke free’, Holmer Green FC has spread the word that its youth football matches are smoke-free areas.

Parents, guardians and other spectators are required to step away from the pitch side if they wish to smoke or vape.

Samantha Lewin, child welfare officer for Holmer Green FC, said: “We’re excited to be adopting the Smokefree Sidelines campaign at Holmer Green FC.

"It’s a fantastic initiative working to change social norms and help reduce the uptake of smoking in young people.

“We will be asking members and visitors to the club to refrain from smoking or vaping on the sidelines and in sight of our youth players at fixtures and during training.

"By promoting our pitch sides as voluntary smoke-free areas, including vaping free, we hope to play our part in providing healthy, safe spaces that give our youth players a chance to perform at their best.”

Carl Jackson, deputy cabinet member for public health, said: “Thank you to Holmer Green FC for being the first local football club in Buckinghamshire to sign up to this fantastic initiative.

"We’re really grateful for the support from your club, your players and your spectators too.

Smoking remains the biggest cause of preventable deaths in Buckinghamshire and is known to increase health inequalities within our society.

"Smoking often starts as a childhood addiction and most adult smokers started smoking at a young age.

"That is why it is so important to discourage the uptake of smoking amongst young people.

"As young people are most at risk of becoming smokers if they grow up in communities where smoking is the norm, campaigns such as Smokefree Sidelines can help to reduce the number of young people who take up smoking.”

Graham Fisher, safeguarding officer at Berks & Bucks FA, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Buckinghamshire Council to bring the popular Smokefree Sidelines campaign to Buckinghamshire and look forward to seeing similar successes as other counties.

"The move for clubs to adopt a Smokefree Sidelines policy complements existing club policies and supports many clubs’ desire to create a healthy family-friendly environment.

"We believe that such an environment and image will be valuable in attracting new members and positively promoting the club within your local community.”

Buckinghamshire Council and Berks & Bucks FA would welcome more local youth football clubs to sign up to Smokefree Sidelinese.

More information on the campaign and the free resources available to local clubs to help promote it can be found here.