Tobacco Use in Athletes. Part 3

Q: Dancers require so much oxygen. Do you see higher rates of diseases like emphysema, etc.?

A: Not from that standpoint, but smoking affects their bones and other general health.

Q: How about the myth at smoking does not affect athletes as much, because they are in such good shape?

A: That is the European argument, but that’s not really the case. Athletic activity more quickly distributes the toxins in the smoke because athletes breathe more deeply.

Q: What about athletes who decide to stop smoking? Is it easier?

A: It may be easier only in that athletes seem to be somewhat focused individuals. When they are performing they are not thinking about the fact that they have not had a cigarette lately. To some extent, an increase in their ability to perform is very positive feedback.

Q: What would you say about smoking to the beginning athlete that they may not have heard?

A: If the young athlete wants to be ostracized, then smoking is the way to go. Most athletes don’t want to even be around smoking. They don’t want to smell it, they don’t want be in the presence of second-hand smoke. They often get a lot of grief from their peers if they begin to smoke.

Q: What is the difference between the coach who does not allow his players to smoke and the coach who allows tobacco use?

Q: At the high school and college level, the coach can make a rule against it, but serious ramifications begin in the professional ranks. Coaches can’t make rules against it – they can simply say, “you can’t smoke while you work”. That’s why you see ballet dancers out in the alley somewhere smoking on their break.

The one thing to make perfectly clear is that smoking does not aid performance. People used to think that smoking would make the athlete more alert. Actually, it can cause jitters. And, it will definitely decrease cardio-pulmonary (heart-lung) performance if not musculo-skeletal ability. It’s not a good idea.

Athletes are really setting themselves up to look stupid if they smoke. They are presenting themselves to look like athletes who lack the commitment to train appropriately and to take care of their bodies. o

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