Smokefree Sport

Over the past 30 years there has been an overall reduction in smoking prevalence of over 50 per cent among Australian adults, from around 35% in 1980 to 14% in 2016 (Cancer Council Victoria, Tobacco In Australia 2018) Tobacco. Although this is great news, smoking continues to be the leading cause of many cancers, respiratory, cardiovascular and other preventable diseases with 1 in 8 Australians continuing to smoke every day, attributing to the death of over 19 000 Australians every year (Australian institute of Health and Welfare, 2016 & 2018).

Policies and programs developed and delivered by Quit Victoria and other tobacco control measures have encouraged and supported many smokers to quit and reduced the uptake of smoking among young people. These interventions have included price increases, plain packaging and health warnings displayed on tobacco products; access to quitting support services such as the Quitline; education and awareness campaigns that highlight the health and lifestyle consequences of tobacco use; and legislation prohibiting tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion.

Another major factor in declining trends of tobacco use can be attributed to changes in locations where smoking is permitted. Examples of this have included non-smoking policies and legislation in and around workplaces, schools, public transport, restaurants, shopping centres and some outdoor public spaces.

Although there has been progress, there is still more that everyone can do to reduce harm from tobacco use. This is particularly true for sporting organisations as sporting venues remain one of the public places where smoking is not currently banned, other than during junior sport. Supporting this, VicHealth’s Tobacco Strategy 2016-2019 suggests that “in the absence of legislation and regulation, there are organisational policies and approaches that may be adopted to reduce the harms from tobacco including voluntary smokefree areas”.

During 2011 to 2015, as part of the VicHealth Healthy Sporting Environments Program, Victoria’s nine Regional Sporting Assemblies supported over 250 rural and regional community sporting clubs to work towards becoming smokefree. This program supported clubs to implement practical actions to create environments that reduce the health and lifestyle risks associated with smoking through a range of resources and examples from within sport. Specifically, clubs were supported to become completely smokefree venues, or become partially smokefree and then gradually move become completely smokefree.

Sport generates exposure to healthy behaviours (Healthy Sporting Environments evaluation)

Sporting organisations have a duty of care to provide a safe and healthy sporting environment. This includes taking active steps to create environments that are smokefree. Simple strategies can be implemented to ensure sporting organisations provide a healthy, safe and welcoming environment that removes or reduces smoking.

Coaches, players and management all have a responsibility to display positive behaviours, especially during junior sport and when around children. Children are easily influenced, often looking up to adults and seeing them role models. De-normalising smoking by not smoking around children and making it less visible demonstrates healthy behaviours that make smoking less socially acceptable.

Creating smoke-free environments is important from a health perspective as it prevents the exposure of others to harmful second-hand smoke, including children. Establishing a smoke-free area may also be a legal requirement for your organisation or club to adhere to National, State and Local legislation on tobacco use.

Please click on the following link Smoking, the law and OH&S obligations which discusses the Tobacco Act and other current Victorian smoking laws/policies.

The reduction of smoking in and around sporting clubs, and the introduction of smoke free venues de-normalises smoking for kids, creates healthier members and supporters, increases physical health and decrease the risk of preventable disease (Healthy Sporting Environments evaluation).

During the 1980’s tobacco use was widespread with smoking rates in Australia more than two times higher than what they are today. Quit Victoria was established in 1985 and is recognised for the extensive work it has done in addressing tobacco use among Victorians and Australians over the past 30 years. Quit has encouraged and supported countless numbers of people to give up smoking. This has resulted in improved immediate and long-term health benefits, reduced smoking related deaths and the continued reductions in smoking prevalence among both adults and youth that we see today.

Quit is a program of Cancer Council Victoria with funding bodies including Cancer Council Victoria, the National Heart Foundation of Australia (Victorian Division), VicHealth and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Quit messaging was well received and easily understood by clubs during Healthy Sporting Environments program (Healthy Sporting Environments evaluation)

The Quit Program was a primary resource used to create smokefree sport settings during the VicHealth Healthy Sporting Environments Program. Throughout the program Quit provided expert support that increased awareness and enhanced understanding regarding the health impacts of tobacco use. Quit continues to support the sport sector, guiding many clubs in creating partially and completely smoke-free settings.

Quit provides a range of free information and support to Victorians that include and are not limited to:

  • Smoking cessation support- Quitline 13 78 48;
  • Quitting tools and resources
  • Smokefree Guides
  • Support and promotion of legislation;
  • Information and training for professionals;
  • Research and information on tobacco issues.

Quit also provides a range of tools and resources to help sporting clubs to go partially or completely smoke-free. This includes fact sheets, sample documents, sample posters and external links to other supportive resources.

Please click on the following link to visit the Quit resource centre- Sporting clubs: Tools and resources

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