SAINTS have signed up for a pioneering initiative to help support fans who want to quit smoking.
Langtree Park stewards will be specially trained to dish out advice about how to stub out the habit for good, as part of a pilot project set to run til September.
Local NHS Stop Smoking Services will also be on-hand at home games throughout the season to ensure smokers are aware of all the quitting options available to them.
Matthew Philpott, Director of the European Healthy Stadia Network, said: “While the UK’s enclosed stadia 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 pilot project. We know that smokers who seek advice from healthcare professionals are four times more likely to successfully quit than if they attempt to do it alone.”
A range of educational materials carrying the Smokefree Squad logo have been developed and will be available around Langtree Park, including fixture booklets and player statistic cards.
The project will also see community coaches and stadium staff trained to act as stop smoking champions in the community.
Saints skipper Paul Wellens said: “We are very anti-smoking both as players and as a club. We strive to make the best out of ourselves both professionally and personally and smoking really doesn’t do you any favours. It has a detrimental effect on your health and your pocket.
“If you are a smoker and a Saints fan then we are here to help - this season and beyond. The spectators have always been there to support us so it’s only right that as a club we support people on their journey to a smoke-free life.”
Wellens’ teammate Jon Wilkin added: “If fans want to quit smoking it’s fantastic that we can now help as a club and have those initially discussions. We are role models within the St Helens community and hopefully by supporting the campaign we will spread the message further.”
To find out more, go online at: www.saintsrlfc.com/smokefreesquad