Nicotine is No Friend to Athletes

Coaches have been putting their players through the paces the past several weeks here in Florida, and now it is time to watch all that hard work pay off as the teams take to the fields.  As a coach, you stress the need for your players to maintain their equipment, and talked to them about maintaining good grades, as well as good nutrition.  Have you talked to your players about the dangers of tobacco use?

Students may think they perform better if they use nicotine but they don’t understand the harm the drug is doing to their bodies.  Nicotine is a stimulant; it raises blood pressure and constricts the blood vessels making it harder for the heart to pump blood.  It causes the body to release stores of fat and cholesterol into the blood, and plaque can begin to block arteries.  Nicotine is one of the hardest addictions to break, and the pharmacological and behavioral characteristics are similar to those of heroin and cocaine.

If the student is a smoker, they are breathing in carbon monoxide.  They have a decrease in performance because their lungs can not produce the oxygen needed.  The constricted blood vessels further reduce the amount of oxygen to the muscles causing fatigue.  The heart has to work overtime.  Lack of oxygen to muscles can also slow down healing if the student athlete is injured.

Chewing tobacco, dipping tobacco, and snus are put into the mouth and the amount of nicotine released into the body is higher than if the user smoked tobacco.  Snus, a new alternative smoking product on the market, is a small packet of tobacco that is held in the mouth.  While chewing tobacco and dipping tobacco need to be spit out, snus users swallow the juices.  The nicotine in these products raise metabolism, and have the same affect on the heart and blood pressure as smoking.  The heart has to work harder.

Tobacco use has changed from cigarettes and chew to new tobacco products that are easy to use and conceal.  Dissolveable, pressed tobacco that looks like breath mints, toothpicks, and breath strips are on the market.  These products are turning up in schools.  Many players think the new products are a safe alternative to get the nicotine they crave without smoking, and don’t understand the long term effects nicotine has on their bodies.

Young male and female student athletes look to their coaches for guidance and support.  As a coach, it is important to teach your students  about the health dangers of tobacco.  You can get that information at the Florida Statewide Tobacco Prevention and Intervention Teacher Training Course.  This free course provides up to 60 teacher in-service credits and provides lesson plans for each level.  Visit the site at:  http://www.tobaccopreventiontraining.org/

Click here for more information on Smoking & Athletes.

 

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