Wales is set to become the first cotunry in the UK to ban smoking on the sidelines at children's football matches.

The move, which has been welcomed by anti-smoking campaigners, has been introduced by the FAW and FAW Trust and comes as part of a wider drive to 'de-normalise' smoking in public places around young children across Wales.

The hope is that these measures will help to further reduce the likelihood of young people taking up the habit.

Research suggests that children whose parents are smokers are 70 per cent more likely to smoke themsleves.

According to figures gathered by Cancer Research UK, around nine per cent of young people aged 15 to 16 in Wales are smokers, with over 6,000 children taking up the habit every year.

Suzanne Cass, CEO of anti-smoking charity ASH Wales said: “Currently in Wales there is an urgent need to address youth smoking prevalence which is still at an unacceptable level.

“When children witness adults lighting up in everyday settings such as football pitches, they come to see smoking as a normal lifestyle choice, rather than the deadly addiction that it is.

“This policy will make a big difference to children’s perception of smoking and we very much hope that this will prevent many of them from taking up the habit in later life.”

This latest measure is first grass-roots country-wide initiative of its kind in the UK, and will apply to all 522 junior clubs during games and training sessions involving players aged 5-11-years old.

The measures are set to be rolled out to cover all youngsters up until the age of 13 by 2022.

It follows on from a pilot scheme rolled out across the Rhondda and District Football League's mini and junior games, as well as the South Wales Women’s and Girl’s League junior matches.

Commenting on the move, Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “I welcome the work undertaken by the FAW to ban smoking on the side-lines of all children’s football games in Wales. Voluntary bans like this one help protect children from seeing smoking as an acceptable and normal behaviour and can help prevent them from taking up smoking in the first place."

Mr Gething has also confirmed that measures will be part of wider drive to discourage smoking around children in public places.

He added: “I remain committed to take further action to de-normalise smoking in more public places, particularly those where children are likely to be present and plan to introduce a ban on smoking in outdoor care settings for children, school grounds, hospital grounds and public playgrounds on 1 March 2021.