Smokefree Sidelines ‘kicks off’ in Buckinghamshire!

Buckinghamshire Council is teaming up with Berks & Bucks Football Association to stop young people taking up smoking by bringing the popular Smokefree Sidelines campaign to Buckinghamshire.

The campaign’s main objective is to discourage spectators from smoking cigarettes or vaping at local youth football matches. With over 47,000 smokers in Buckinghamshire, Smokefree Sidelines is not about targeting smokers unfairly, but instead asking current smokers to be aware of their visibility to children who might see them smoking. The tagline ‘We copy what we see, let’s make our sport smoke free’ provides clear encouragement to smokers to either refrain from smoking during the match, or to move away from the side lines and smoke where children and young adults are not present.

The campaign was created and began in Norfolk in 2017 and has since been delivered successfully by local authorities and football associations across the country. And now Buckinghamshire Council and Berks & Bucks FA are excited to roll out the campaign to local football clubs here in Buckinghamshire.

On Sunday 13 February, Holmer Green FC became the first local football club in the county to start promoting the Smokefree Sidelines campaign. Using a suite of materials provided by Buckinghamshire Council – from pledge posters to car stickers and infographic postcards to banners – Holmer Green FC has been able to spread the word that its youth football matches are smoke free areas. Parents, guardians and other spectators are required to step away from the pitch side if they would like to smoke or vape.

Samantha Lewin, Child Welfare Officer for Holmer Green FC commented:

“We’re excited to be adopting the Smokefree Sidelines campaign at Holmer Green FC. It’s a fantastic initiative working to change social norms and help reduce the uptake of smoking in young people.

“We will be asking members and visitors to the club to refrain from smoking or vaping on the sidelines and in sight of our youth players at fixtures and during training. By promoting our pitch sides as voluntary smoke-free areas, including vaping free, we hope to play our part in providing healthy, safe spaces that give our youth players a chance to perform at their best.”

Smokefree Sidelines isn’t just about discouraging spectators of youth football from smoking cigarettes or e-cigarettes pitch side, but it also directs smokers to local support on Buckinghamshire’s Live Well Stay Well website where they can access lots of useful advice, guidance and help to quit smoking.

Carl Jackson, Deputy Cabinet Member for Public Health, said:

“Thank you to Holmer Green FC for being the first local football club in Buckinghamshire to sign up to this fantastic initiative. We’re really grateful for the support from your club, your players and your spectators too!

“Smoking remains the biggest cause of preventable deaths in Buckinghamshire and is known to increase health inequalities within our society. Smoking often starts as a childhood addiction and most adult smokers started smoking at a young age. That is why it is so important to discourage the uptake of smoking amongst young people. As young people are most at risk of becoming smokers if they grow up in communities where smoking is the norm, campaigns such as Smokefree Sidelines can help to reduce the number of young people who take up smoking.”

Graham Fisher, Designated Safeguarding Officer for Berks & Bucks FA, commented:

“We’re delighted to be working with Buckinghamshire Council to bring the popular Smokefree Sidelines campaign to Buckinghamshire and look forward to seeing similar successes as other counties. The move for clubs to adopt a Smokefree Sidelines policy complements existing club policies and supports many clubs’ desire to create a healthy family-friendly environment. We believe that such an environment and image will be valuable in attracting new members and positively promoting the club within your local community.”

Buckinghamshire Council and Berks & Bucks FA would like to welcome more local youth football clubs to sign up to the Smokefree Sidelines initiative. For more information on the campaign and to enquire into the free resources available to local clubs to help promote the campaign, visit: