January 18th to 24th is National Non-Smoking Week and if you use tobacco, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. But wouldn’t it be great if nobody, especially kids, ever started smoking or using any kind of tobacco? While there’s plenty of information available about the harmful effects of tobacco use, there are also influences in society that send the opposite message. It’s no secret that some sports have been associated with tobacco use.
As part of its health promotions, Northern Health is working with sports organizations across the north to promote tobacco-free sports.
Tobacco-free sport represents the idea that everyone taking part in sports and recreational activities does not use any kind of tobacco product during the activity. Tobacco-free sport involves developing, implementing and enforcing policies within sports and recreation organizations that address all types of tobacco use. It sends the message that sports and tobacco don’t belong on the same playing field.
Everyone can be part of the big picture by encouraging their local sports and recreation organizations to develop, promote and enforce tobacco-free sports policies. However, if you’re more involved in a sports organization, there are a few other things you can do as well:
- If you’re a parent whose child is active in sports, talk to your children about tobacco. Be involved in the game and help out. Make sure you know what’s going on with your children.
- Coaches have a big influence on the players they work with. If you’re a coach, use your influence to support tobacco-free sports.
- If you’re a player, don’t use any form of tobacco. Whether you play for fun or in a highly competitive elite league, somebody is probably looking up to you. Set an example for them.
In addition to promoting a healthy lifestyle, tobacco-free sports can also:
- Protect everyone at the game from second- and third-hand smoke.
- Help keep our recreation venues and environment free from toxic cigarette butt litter.
- Prevent youth from starting to use tobacco products.
- Give everyone a chance to perform at their best.
- Help tobacco users quit by offering sports environments free of triggers that might lead to cravings for a cigarette.
Tobacco-free policies are a great way to send the message that sport and tobacco don’t mix, but they also need to be promoted and adhered to by everybody to be effective. That means nobody uses tobacco while playing, coaching, or watching.
Let’s work together to make National Non-Smoking Week last the entire season!
About Reg Wulff
Reg is a Regional Tobacco Reduction Coordinator with Northern Health and has his BA in Health Science. Previously, he worked as a Recreation Therapist with Mental Health and Addictions Services in Terrace. Originally from Revelstoke, Reg enjoys the outdoor activities that Terrace offers, like mountain biking and fishing. Reg also likes playing hockey, working out and creative writing. He is married and has two sons and believes strongly in a work/life balance as family time is important to him.