15 Feb Tranmere Rovers FC Launch Campaign to Help Smokers Quit
Tranmere Rovers Football Club has launched a pioneering initiative called Smokefree Squad to help support fans and members of the local community who want to quit smoking.
The project, developed in partnership with the European Healthy Stadia Network and Heart of Mersey, and funded by Wirral Borough Council and the Public Health team at NHS Wirral, involves a mix of approaches to help empower those who want to stop smoking, with fans encouraged to join the Smokefree Squad. The initiative was launched at Tranmere Rovers’ game against Shrewsbury FC at Prenton Park on Friday 15th February and will run at the club until the end of March.
On match days, smokers will benefit from advice from club stewards who have been specially trained to help those ready to kick the habit. Wirral Community NHS Trust’s Stop Smoking Service will also be on-hand at certain home games to ensure smokers are aware of all the options available to help support them in their attempt to quit smoking, including a drop-in service running at Tranmere Rovers’ recreation centre every Thursday evening between 5.00-7.00pm.
Matthew Philpott, Director of European Healthy Stadia Network, said: “Whilst football grounds have been subject to smokefree legislation since 2007, there are significant opportunities to engage fans on match day who might be interested in reducing or quitting smoking. Sports stadia offer an ideal setting to deliver advice through ‘brief interventions’ and we hope to demonstrate the scale of the opportunity through this campaign.”
Jo McCullagh, Tobacco Control Programme Lead for Heart of Mersey, commented: “We know that smokers who seek support from a local stop smoking service are four times more likely to successfully quit than if they attempt to do it alone, and we want to make this as easy as possible for the fans of Tranmere Rovers and those living in communities local to the club.”
A range of educational materials carrying the Smokefree Squad logo have been developed in consultation with fan groups, including contact details for all stop smoking services in Merseyside and Cheshire, and will be available at Prenton Park on matchdays. The project will be communicated to fans at the grounds through a number of channels including campaign posters, inclusion in match day programmes, and pre-match activities involving the club mascot. The project will also see community coaches and relevant stadium staff trained to act as stop smoking champions within community projects.
Mick Horton, Chief Executive of Tranmere Rovers, said: “Through Smokefree Squad we aim to ensure that smokers who are motivated to quit are given the right support to help them succeed. This project gives us a unique opportunity to positively influence the lives of our fans, employees and those living in communities local to the club.”
Councillor Chris Jones, Wirral Council Cabinet Member for Adult Social Services and Public Health said: “It’s fantastic that by securing NHS funding for this project we can work with our partners to help local people quit smoking. When communities support and help each other, we are all more likely to succeed in our goals – particularly when it’s something which can be difficult, like stopping smoking.”
It costs the NHS approximately £2.7 billion a year to treat the diseases caused by smoking and around half of regular smokers will eventually be killed by their addiction. In the North West the number of smokers is above the national average, with 22% of adults smoking compared to 20% across England.
For more information, visit Tranmere Rovers Smokefree Squad website: http://www.tranmererovers.co.uk/news/article/smokefreesquad-150213-658116.aspx