Wales makes it illegal to smoke on sidelines of kids’ outdoor football matches

Parents are to be banned from smoking at the sidelines of their kids football matches despite it being outdoors.

Spectators will be banned from lighting up on the touchline at all 522 of Wales' junior clubs.

The ban is to be brought in for matches for children aged five to 11 later this month.

It will cover up to 13 years from September 2022 with plans to extend it to older children later.

Coaches and club officials will be tasked with enforcing the new policy with individual clubs to write a no-smoking rule into their code of conduct.

Health minister Vaughan Gething claimed the touchline ban would “help protect children from seeing smoking as an acceptable and normal behaviour” and “de-normalise” the habit.

But Simon Clark, director of the smoker’s group Forest, was critical of the move and said that a quick smoke on the touchline posed no actual health threat.

He said: “Smoking in the open air does not put anyone else’s health at risk, nor is there evidence that the sight of a non-family member smoking pitchside encourages children to start.

“The number of adults who smoke on the sidelines is extremely small and most eyes will be on the football.”

It comes as part of wider efforts by the Welsh government to make the country’s public spaces smoke-free.

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The government also plans to ban smoking in playgrounds, hospital grounds and playgrounds by March next year.

And this legislation will be enforced by local authorities – meaning that anyone caught having a quick smoke on the touchline could be slapped with a fixed-penalty notice.

And Health Minister Vaughan Gething even claims that a reduction in smokers will help the country kick Covid-19.

He said: “Whilst the evidence on smoking and Covid-19 is still emerging, smokers generally have an increased risk of contracting respiratory infections, such as COVID-19, and so the introduction of these requirements are supporting our response to the pandemic."

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