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
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