SPECTATORS at youth football matches are being urged to stop smoking during games as part of a new campaign.

Teams taking part in Oxfordshire Smokefree Sidelines will receive training to educate members on the dangers of smoking.

A survey of clubs found 86 per cent of people thought the activity was unacceptable and 85 per cent said it negatively impacted their enjoyment of the game.

The initiative is a collaboration between Oxfordshire FA, Berks and Bucks FA, Active Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire County Council and the counties’ youth football leagues.

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Rose Hill Youth FC in Oxford have signed up to the scheme and secretary Lauren Juggins feels it will provide long-term benefits.

She said: "We do not want children to think smoking is ok, as they are not aware of the dangers and health risks smoking can cause.

"The more we discourage smoking for this generation we will all benefit by becoming fitter and healthier. The impact for the future in society is already looking brighter.”

Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable deaths in Oxfordshire and evidence shows that most adult smokers started at a young age.

Dr Adam Briggs, consultant in public health, added: “As part of our ambition for Oxfordshire to be smoke free by 2025, this initiative will help to create a healthy environment for children and young people to enjoy playing sport.”