What Coaches Should Know About Tobacco

Coaches – You Can Influence Youth

• Smoking slows lung growth, decreases lung function, and reduces the oxygen available for muscles used in sports.
• Smokers suffer from shortness of breath almost three times more often than nonsmokers.
• Nicotine is addictive in ways like heroin and cocaine.
• Young people who do not start using tobacco by age 18 will most likely never start.
• Young people who use tobacco may be more likely to use alcohol and other drugs such as cocaine and marijuana.
• Spit tobacco (chew), cigars and vaping products (e-cigarettes) are NOT safe alternatives to cigarettes; low-tar and additive-free tobacco products are not safe either.
• Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States, causing heart and lung diseases, cancers, and strokes.

Take a Stand – Early and Often

• Recognize your influence with young people. Don’t use tobacco around students. Remind them of the importance of being tobacco-free. 
• When talking to players, remember they relate more to messages about the immediate effects of tobacco use (such as poorer athletic performance) than to its long-term health threats.
• Adopt and enforce a tobacco-free policy for players, coaches, and referees.
• Send a copy of the tobacco-free policy home for parents to review.
• Make all practices, games, and competitions tobacco-free—on the field and sidelines and in the stands.
• Announce and display tobacco-free messages at games.
• Consider partnering with your local tobacco prevention programs. Voice your support for tobacco-free schools, sports, and other community events.