This summer, outdoor events across Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County are being invited to go Smokefree for summer, especially where the event has a family and/or child element. The Newark Half Marathon Committee were approached earlier this year and asked to consider making the event Smokefree. The committee gave their full approval to support the initiative, and there the Smokefree Newark Half Marathon was born.
Smoking is still the number one preventable cause of death and disease in the UK. Since the introduction of the Smokefree legislation in 2007, which made smoking in public enclosed spaces illegal, there has been huge culture change nationally around smoking, with increased numbers of quitters leading to the decrease in the number of smokers. For more information on smoking statistics in Nottinghamshire, visit https://www.smokefreelifenottinghamshire.co.uk/Smoking-Local.aspx
Whilst this is all great news, we have to turn some of the attention to why people start smoking. I think it is fair to say that there are very few adults who make the decision to start smoking. If you speak to smokers or ex-smokers, most will tell you that they started smoking when they were at school in their teens. Many children have their first experience of smoking with peer groups, but impressions are formed even younger and adult role models have a huge part to play. The following account should help support this.
A few years back in a previous role, I was invited to a health event at a primary school. There was lots going on; healthy eating, physical activity, dental hygiene to name a few. But on this occasion, these topics were not the main focus. The health fair had been arranged to tackle underage smoking. Yes, you read correctly. Underage smoking in primary school. It was brought to the schools attention that a very small number of children were smoking – not necessarily at school – but were known to be smoking, and even more surprisingly, one of them was just six years old. Each year group were brought into the hall for an informative session on all of the health topics, but it was the smoking element that was the real eye opener. The year groups were asked questions collectively, such as ‘Who lives with an adult that smokes?’, ‘What do you know about smoking?’, ‘Who thinks that they might smoke when they are older?’ and ‘Who has tried smoking?’. As mentioned before, a very small number (less than 5) admitted to having tried smoking, but that is just too many! More interestingly though, were the reasons why children thought they might take up smoking when they got older. The main reasons children stated were:
- because you smoke when you have a drink
- because I want to be like my Dad
- to see what it’s like
- because that’s what you do when you are an adult
Because that’s what you do when you are an adult…
And so, that statement leads me perfectly on to why we are promoting the Smokefree Summer Initiative. It kicked off last year in Nottingham at their annual summer beach in the city centre. Quite simply, smokers were politely asked to move away from the event if they wished to smoke, meaning adults were not lighting up in front of children. It was very well received by parents, children, smokers and non-smokers, so much so that it has been rolled out across the city and the county for 2016. Us adults are the most influential impact on children and young people, and with that comes a huge responsibility. Smokefree Summer can help by:
Providing positive smokefree role models for children and young people
Reducing their exposure to smoking so it's not seen as a 'normal' activity
Increasing the number of designated outdoor smokefree areas across Nottingham to de-normalise smoking for adults
Reducing the environmental and financial impact of littering of cigarette butts and packets.
Empowering parents and carers to speak up and be more vocal about not wanting their children to be around smoking
So if you are visiting the Newark Half Marathon this weekend please remember that it is a Smokefree event. If you need to smoke, please make a conscious effort to do so outside of the Sconce and Devon park boundary during the event or if you are spectating along the route, please be aware of children and families that may be around you and move away to light up.
The Smoking Cessation service Smokefree Life Nottinghamshire will be in attendance at the event village for anyone who would like further information or supporting regarding quitting. You can find more information about quitting smoking here: https://www.smokefreelifenottinghamshire.co.uk/Support-Near-You.aspx