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The #hurlthehabit campaign was launched at Croke Park.
The #hurlthehabit campaign was launched at Croke Park.

Croke Park and HSE promote smoke-free stadium for All Ireland semi-final


On a day that promises breath-taking displays of sporting prowess, Croke Park is partnering with the HSE’s Quit Team to encourage any smokers in the crowd at the All-Ireland hurling semi-final on August 13 to #hurlthehabit.

As Cork play Waterford in the senior match and Dublin in the minor clash, patrons will also be asked to refrain from smoking anywhere inside the stadium to assess the potential of Croke Park becoming completely smoke-free in the future in line with many stadia across Europe.

Each year since 2014, the GAA has nominated one of its All-Ireland semi-finals to promote a significant health message and this year’s theme has been inspired by the GAA’s Healthy Club Project. A total of 25 of the 60 clubs participating in phase two of the Healthy Ireland and Irish Life supported project have become tobacco-free zones over the past 12 months, with nine others moving in that direction. It is hoped that the #hurlthehabit themed semi-final will influence other clubs across the Association to become smoke-free zones too as Ireland strives towards its 2025 tobacco-free target.

An Uachtarán CLG, Aogán Ó Fearghail, said: “We want our members’ breath to be taken away by our games, not because of a habit they want to quit but may be struggling with. We hope this partnership with QUIT, on one of our biggest occasions of the year, will help to achieve that while giving due recognition to the leadership of our Healthy Clubs in their communities and inspiring more to action.”

Ambassador Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh said: “I smoked during an era when the health ramifications weren’t widely known. It wasn’t unusual to see players smoking in the changing rooms, at half time and even on the sidelines of Croke Park. Quitting many years ago was one of the best decisions of my life and I’m delighted to support this initiative.”

Martina Blake, HSE Tobacco Free Ireland Lead, said: “The decision to make our national GAA stadium a smoke-free venue for the All-Ireland Hurling semi final is an important step towards a Tobacco Free Ireland. It sends a powerful message to all the children in the stadium that smoking is hugely harmful. It also provides GAA fans the opportunity to enjoy supporting their team in a healthier environment.

“We know that children are hugely influenced by what they see and hear. We know that adults around them are powerful role models for both negative and positive health behaviours. Now through the Healthy Club Project, officers, coaches, and adult club members are setting an example for the younger generation of GAA players and fans by not smoking at the sidelines during training and at matches.

“Most of us know someone who has died from a tobacco related illness like our friend Gerry Collins who featured in the HSE’s hard-hitting QUIT campaign. Gerry was deeply connected to the GAA, he played football for Kilmacud Crokes GAA Club and lined out for the Dublin senior team before turning his hand to coaching.

“As part of the QUIT campaign, Gerry talked about the real-life struggles of a man whose health had been destroyed by tobacco and the challenges he and his family faced following his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer. Gerry sadly lost his battle to lung cancer in 2014.”

As a tribute, a new advert highlighting Gerry’s commitment to GAA and his battle with lung cancer will feature on the big screens in Croke Park on August 13th.

QUIT teams will be on standby while Croke Park will also deploy additional wardens to support any fans that may need some extra help on the day as Croke Park goes smoke-free.  With six out of every ten smokers in Ireland wanting to QUIT smoking, the partnership aims to let GAA fans know that free QUIT smoking services are available to them online, over the phone and in person around the country.

Patrons who smoke are also encouraged to bring nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) treatments, such as mouth spray, lozenges or nicotine gum, with them to Croke Park if they feel they may need it. NRT reduces the physical symptoms of a craving and are available over the counter in stores and pharmacies.

If your GAA club would like to #hurlthehabit and become smoke-free go to gaa.ie/community to find out more or email aoife.obrien@gaa.ie

If you want to #HurltheHabit talk to our expert advisors about quitting, call the QUIT Team on 1800 201 203 or FREETEXT 'QUIT' to 50100. Over on www.QUIT.ie there are quit tips, live chat and the chance to create your own personalised QUITplan, or find us on Facebook - there's never been a better time to #hurlthehabit for good. 

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