Norfolk football clubs want smoke-free sidelines
- Credit: Norfolk FA
Stub it out on the touchline.
That's the message from a new initiative called #SmokefreeSidelines being launched as the new youth football season kicks off.
The Norfolk Football Association and health groups are working with local football clubs with the aim of stopping spectators smoking at the sidelines of youth games and near playing areas, where impressionable children and young people can see it.
The campaign was first launched in July at the Norfolk FA's largest tournament, The FDC Youth Cup, by NHS Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Smokefree Norfolk, the Norfolk FA and support from district councils.
Since then, 12 clubs have signed up to become champions of the campaign, with Fakenham Town FC being the first to get involved.
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Now, each district in Norfolk has a club representing the campaign.
Chairman of Old Catton Junior Football Club Kevin Brown said: 'We are a group that encourages young people to play sport out in the fresh air, so it seems like a no-brainer to promote something that is for the greater good.'
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The clubs will be displaying banners and have free t-shirts and flags for fans.
The FA hopes that with each of the clubs signed up, pitch-side smoking will disappear throughout the season making football a healthier place.
'Fans that want to have a cigarette or vape will have to wait the 90 minutes,' Mr Brown added.
'We have also asked our partners and other places where we train to get involved.'
Chairman of NHS Norwich CCG, Tracy Williams, said that children are 'influenced by what they see' copying what adults do.
If they grow up in communities where smoking is the 'norm' they are more likely to smoke.
'The most effective way to prevent young people from becoming smokers is to encourage adult smokers to quit' she added.
Norfolk FA Chairman, Michael Banham said: '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.'
The clubs signed up to the campaign are: Fakenham Town, Horsford Youth, Aylsham, Shouldham Youth, Thetford Town, Dereham Town Youth, Thetford Rovers, Old Catton, Cringleford, Scole United, Gorleston Rangers and Gorleston.