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Sports clubs kick smoking into touch
Wednesday 17th July, 2013

Sports clubs across Wigan Borough are taking part in an initiative which discourages young people from smoking.

The ‘Smoke Free Touchlines’ programme highlights the risks of smoking, and is a joint initiative between the Wigan and Leigh Tobacco Control Alliance, which is supported and led by Wigan Council, and the Wigan Borough Healthy Stadia and Sports Club Network.

It gives sports clubs the option to go totally smoke free on their touchlines, or be selective and adopt smoke free touchlines at junior matches or on two of the four touchlines in their stadium.

It is the UK’s first borough wide approach to using sports clubs to help improve the health of their fans, players, members and the local community.

Councillor Keith Cunliffe, joint chair of the Tobacco Control Alliance and Wigan Council Cabinet champion for health, said: “One of the key aims of the Tobacco Control Alliance is to discourage our young people from starting smoking. I am really pleased that clubs in the borough have adopted ‘Smoke Free Touchlines’ and are supporting us with this aim.”

The initiative offers sports clubs support in developing smoking policies; resources for outdoor use, such as weatherproof signage which respectfully ask spectators to refrain from smoking on the immediate sidelines and support and training for volunteers within the club around smoking.

One of the sports clubs in the borough which has signed up to the initiative is New Springs Lions RLFC. John Shaw, club development officer, said: “This initiative is an excellent idea and ties in to our work in encouraging young people to take up sport and live a healthy lifestyle. We have introduced signage on our touchlines which discourages smoking and offer advice and ‘quit kits’ to spectators who are trying to kick the habit.”

Councillor Chris Ready, Wigan Council Cabinet member for Leisure, said: “Wigan Council is always looking to find ways of improving the health of the local community. This initiative in using sports clubs to inspire young people to take up sport, while encouraging them not to start smoking, is a fantastic example of this. I’m confident more sports clubs across the borough will get involved.”

Around 340,000 children under the age of 16 in the UK try cigarettes for the first time each year and smoking accounts for 500 – 600 deaths per year in the borough.

If you would like to know more about smoke free touchlines, visit www.wiganhealthystadia.org.uk.

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