The FIFA World Cup isn’t the only hot topic of football conversation this winter

More and more clubs in Buckinghamshire are adopting Buckinghamshire Council’s Smokefree Sidelines initiative, in partnership with Berkshire & Buckinghamshire Football Association.

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 may see them smoking. The tagline ‘We copy what we see, let’s make our sport smoke and vape 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.

Young people are most at risk of becoming smokers themselves if they grow up in communities where smoking is the norm. One approach to tackle this is to make places where children and young people regularly visit smoke free. Already in Buckinghamshire, the Smokefree Sidelines initiative has been adopted at:

  • Aston Clinton Colts Junior Football Club
  • Aylesbury United Football Club
  • Burnham Football Club
  • Hazlemere Youth Centre Community Football Club
  • Holmer Green Football Club
  • Wingrave Wasps Football Club

To help show sideline smokers the metaphorical red card, the council is providing clubs with free campaign materials to promote at youth matches including, pledge posters, infographic postcards, car stickers, selfie frames and banners.

Angela Macpherson, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Public Health, commented:

“With the FIFA World Cup kicking off this week, there’s no better time to promote the Smokefree Sidelines initiative to all youth football clubs in the county. Whether the international sporting competition inspires children to take up football, or simply grows an existing interest, we want to encourage our own local football clubs to make their home matches smokefree.

“Smoking remains the biggest cause of preventable deaths in Buckinghamshire and is known to increase health inequalities within our society. Our research shows that smoking often starts as a childhood addiction and most adult smokers started smoking at a young age which is why discouraging the uptake of smoking early on is so important. As young people are most at risk of becoming smokers themselves if they grow up in communities where smoking is the norm, campaigns such as Smokefree Sidelines can have a real positive effect on reducing the number of young people who take up smoking.

I would like to extend a huge thank you to the Buckinghamshire based football clubs who have already adopted Smokefree Sidelines. We’re really grateful for the support from your club, your players and your spectators too!”

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.

Vaping (or e-cigarettes) can be an effective tool to help adults over the age of 18 to quit smoking tobacco. Vaping is not totally risk free, but the alternative is far worse. Therefore, children and young people should be discouraged from taking up vaping, and adults should not vape in sight of children and young people.

Buckinghamshire Council and Berks & Bucks Football Association invite 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