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Saturday 3 December 2016

This GAA club has become only the second ever in Ireland to bring in a smoking ban

Greg Harkin

Published 15/09/2016 | 11:20

Stock photo: Sportsfile
Stock photo: Sportsfile

A GAA club in Co Donegal has become just the second club in Ireland to bring in a smoking ban at their grounds.

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The GAA has today said it hopes to make all 2,300 club grounds smoke-free over the next ten years.

St Mary’s GAA club in Convoy, became just the second club in Ireland to introduce a smoking ban this week.

Executive members decided to follow the example set last year by the St John Volunteer’s Club in Wexford.

Grants and signage are available from the GAA under its ‘Healthy Clubs’ initiative for other clubs who want to follow the example.

Stacey Cannon. The National Health & Wellbeing Co-ordinator at Croke Park, said the organisation is keen to encourage clubs to introduce smoke-free communities rather than introducing a ban.

“We know this is not going to happen overnight. It’s about wanting to normalise the fact that smoking no longer takes place sat the side of a pitch or training ground,” she said.

The GAA, she said, would promote healthy lifestyles through county health and well-being officers.

“It’s like smoking in pubs, it’s now accepted that’s they are smoke-free and we want to see that behaviour at GAA clubs and it may take ten years to do that.”

Lorena Barron, the Children’s Officer at the St Mary’s club, said she was delighted to see her proposal backed by the club executive.

The mother-of-two, whose daughter Ellie is captain of the Donegal U14 ladies gaelic team, said she hopes other clubs will follow suit.

“I just didn’t think it was fair that I could be watching a game and someone could light up a cigarette beside me and send smoke over the dug-outs,” she said.

“We want to encourage a healthy lifestyle and this is one way of doing that.

“It’s not about being anti-smoker either. Smokers will have to go outside the gate and I’m hoping it will discourage others, especially our younger members, from taking up the habit and perhaps help some to give up smoking altogether.”

The club is being helped by the quit.ie website.

The GAA has asked clubs who want to introduce the initiative to email community.health@gaa.ie

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