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Smoke Free Soccer: Coaches Manual: Foreword

Dear Coach,

There’s a question on a lot of your players’ minds—if not now, then soon—it’s, "Should I smoke or not?" The answer seems like a no-brainer, but to young people it’s a hard decision they have to deal with every day. And between being bombarded by seductive ads and being pulled by peer pressure, 3,000 young Americans decide to start smoking every day. And 1,000 of them will die prematurely from tobacco-related disease. That’s a statistic none of us wants to see go up. And that’s where you come in.

Next to a parent, a coach or a teacher is the most influential person in a young person’s life. So don’t downplay your impact. About 80% of adult smokers started smoking before they turned 18. You can change that. Just talk to your players. Tell them how smoking affects their play on the field and their lives off it. Tell them about how it shortens their breath; how it slows their reaction time; how it only leads to disease. Tell them, "You smoke, you choke." You’re their coach. They will listen.

Thank you, Coach. The lessons you teach your players will last them a lifetime. With your help, that can be a long, long time.

Richard Carmona, M.D.
Surgeon General
U.S. Public Health Service
Department of Health and Human Services

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