Smokefree Sidelines launched in Hull and the East Riding last year.
Smokefree Sidelines launched in Hull and the East Riding last year.

Smokefree Sidelines project scores ‘grassroots’ award

A project designed to protect young football stars from second-hand smoke has been given a boost after it was recognised as a leading light of grassroots football.

Smokefree Sidelines launched last year in Hull and the East Riding and saw an immediate stop to parents and other spectators lighting up at the sidelines of any junior football game held in either local authority area.

One of the first projects of its kind in the country, Smokefree Sidelines is part of an ongoing drive to create a “smoke-free generation” of children who do not see smoking as the norm and are protected from its harmful effects.

Over the weekend, the East Riding County Football Association (ERCFA) named Smokefree Sidelines its Grassroots Project of the Year at the annual Grassroots Football Awards.

Now, it is hoped that other sports will follow the example set by junior football and adopt a smoke-free policy.

Emma Kelly, health improvement officer at Hull City Council, leads the project for the authority. She said: “Smokefree Sidelines was made possible by all the partners involved really taking the idea to heart and working extremely hard to introduce it – it was crucial we had buy-in from the league and the coaches in order for it to work and the ERCFA made sure that happened.

“We’ve been delighted by what a huge success Smokefree Sidelines has been – we know it’s really making a difference and people have actually welcomed the change. Making sure children and young people don’t see smoking as normal is a big part of making sure they don’t take it up.

“Smoking really has no place around an activity where being fit and healthy is essential. The big win here is the fact Smokefree Sidelines is up, running and contributing to healthier futures for local children, but the award is the icing on the cake.

“It would be fantastic if, as a result of being highlighted like this, we saw Smokefree Sidelines grow further and roll out to other sports. We’re keen to speak to anyone who’d like to implement it and can support with practical things like drafting a policy and using the branding for resources”.

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The city centre will be taken over for the annual Pride in Hull event this weekend.
Graham Chesters, centre, at the REYTA Awards 2019, with Cllr Dave Craker, right, of Hull City Council and Cllr Richard Burton, leader of East Riding Council.