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Touchline smokers shown the red card

10 January 2017

A Bridge Juniors Football Club team showing Bertie the Butt the red card.

A junior football club in Rochdale has blown the whistle on smokers who light-up on the touchline as part of a pilot that could be rolled out across the borough.

Bridge Juniors Football Club in Rochdale is promoting healthy behaviour by having smokefree training sessions and matches to protect children.

The club has been chosen to take part in a 'Smokefree Sports' pilot, which has been set up by local social enterprise Healthier Futures in partnership with Rochdale Borough Council.

'This is an important step towards our goal of a smokefree borough'

Officers from Healthier Futures and the council's stop smoking service will be on hand to help parents and coaches kick the habit on Saturday, 4 February 2017, providing information about the positives of healthy, shared community spaces for families, and the negative impact of smoking on children's health. Parents will also be able to offer their opinions and sign a smokefree sports pledge.

The pilot will run initially from January to March 2017. It is hoped that it will then be rolled out permanently across the borough.

Research shows that demand for smokefree events and spaces with children present is high across Greater Manchester. A survey carried out by Healthier Futures in 2015, found that 83% of people surveyed in Greater Manchester agreed that there should be no smoking at outdoor events which are specifically for children and families.

'This campaign will protect our children and ensure a healthy smokefree space for them to play in'

The pilot campaign has been organised by Manchester-based social enterprise Healthier Futures on behalf of Greater Manchester local authorities who want to address the impact of smoking on children.

Councillor Janet Emsley, Rochdale Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Culture, Health and Wellbeing, said: "I am extremely pleased that a Rochdale club has been chosen to take part in the smokefree touchlines pilot and I look forward to working with them to make our borough a healthier place to live. We have been doing some fantastic work to protect our residents from the harm of tobacco such as educating our children about the dangers of smoking, preventing underage tobacco sales and providing stop smoking support for our residents; and this is another important step towards our goal of a smokefree borough. Sports and smoking don't mix, and are not part of a healthy sporting lifestyle. We hope to see more local clubs take this positive step to protect children and families."

'We are challenging the myth that smoking is normal'

Bridge Juniors Football Club secretary, Barry Woodburn, said: "As Club Secretary, I am really excited to be part of this campaign which will protect our children and ensure a healthy smokefree space for them to play in. At Bridge Juniors Football Club, we are always looking for ways to encourage healthy living for the children, their parents, our coaches and other club officials and taking part in this pilot campaign underlines our commitment to this."

Andrea Crossfield, chief executive of Healthier Futures said:  "Young people consistently overestimate the prevalence of smoking, with 60% thinking it's the 'norm', when in reality 4 out of 5 people don't smoke in Greater Manchester. Often children, whose primary role models smoke, assume that it is normal behaviour. By introducing smokefree sports, we are challenging the myth that smoking is a normal activity that most people do, as well as increasing the amount of clean and healthy environments in Greater Manchester for children and families to play in. This is about promoting healthy behaviour to children. The more spaces that become smokefree, the less likely children are to take up smoking – preventing them from entering into a deadly addiction that kills 1 in 2 long-term smokers."

If you are thinking about quitting smoking you can contact Rochdale Stop Smoking Service for free help and support by calling 01706 751190.

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