Smoking doesn't mix well with athletics

By Laura Clarke
Port Hardy Secondary School
Port Hardy, British Columbia

Athletics and smoking have never been able to co-exist for many reasons including the physical damage that smoking does to a person's body.

Many students who participate in sports are not regular or heavy smokers. According to a study by Escobedo in 1993, that may be related to a number of factors including greater self-confidence gained from sports participation, perceptions about reduced sports performance because of smoking, and a greater awareness of the health consequences of smoking. Among those health consequences are chronic coughing, increased frequency and severity of respiratory illnesses, and a faster heartbeat.


Even among young people trained in competitive running, smoking is a detriment to an athlete's fitness in terms of both performance and endurance. As well, smoking among youth can hamper the rate of lung growth and the level of maximum lung function.

According to the Canadian Drug Council, teens who smoke are three times more likely than non-smokers to use alcohol and eight times more likely to use marijuana. Similarly, studies show that students who participate in at least one sport are 40 per cent less likely to be regular smokers and 50 per cent less likely to be heavy smokers.

Athletics offer an alternative to the benefits that many young teens, especially females, look for in smoking, such as independence, status with their peers, relaxation, and a more positive sense of self.

P. Edwards, author of Evening the Odds: Adolescent Women, Tobacco and Physical Activity suggests, "Smoking becomes a way for pre-teen and teen women to build a sense of self and stay connected with peers in the face of enormous pressures to be beautiful, successful, sophisticated, thin, independent, and popular."