Pirates go tobacco-free

The Portland Pirates, American Hockey League affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes, today announced the team’s collaboration with Maine CDC Partnership for a Tobacco-Free Maine (PTM). The Pirates will go tobacco-free as part of an effort to improve player and employee health while raising awareness about the risks of tobacco use.

The Pirates are inviting their fans and supporters to join them in their tobacco-free pledge with support from PTM’s free resources.

The Pirates are kicking off their pledge on National Kick Butts Day, March 20. Kick Butts Day empowers youth to take action against tobacco. The team’s hope is that their young fans will follow their lead by living tobacco-free.

“I’m so proud of the Pirates organization for taking control of their health and setting a good example for their fans,” said Dr. Sheila Pinette, executive director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “I encourage any Pirate or fan to take advantage of our state’s exceptional tobacco-control program. This offer extends to every Mainer out there who is still struggling to quit tobacco.”

Everyone in the Pirates organization, including the Maine Hockey Group, the Portland Junior Pirates, and Pirates fans and customers, will receive information about accessing free support services through Maine CDC Partnership for a Tobacco Free Maine, including opportunities to take the tobacco-free pledge at all remaining Pirates home games.

“Our players take their health very seriously, and they understand the health consequences associated with tobacco use,” said Brian Petrovek, Pirates managing owner/CEO. “This is a great opportunity for the players, coaches, and staff to share the benefits of a tobacco free lifestyle with not only athletes of all ages but with all our fans in the region. We hope that thousands of others will take the pledge to live tobacco-free –- we will all be better for it.”

“We know a lot about [tobacco] now, so to me, you’ve got to take care of yourself. Put that stuff in your body, you’re asking for trouble,” said Pirates head coach Ray Edwards. “[Hockey players] have to keep our bodies at a higher level than a normal person, so it’s a no-brainer for any athlete to think smart about the way they take care of their body. My thought though is athlete, non-athlete, take care of your body, be smart.”

When asked why it’s important to be tobacco-free, Pirates captain Alexandre Bolduc said, “One day I’ll have kids, and I don’t want them to grow up without a father because of lung cancer, something like that, so I try and stay as healthy as possible so I can be with my kids as long as possible when the time comes. That’s pretty important to me.”

“Obviously it’s important, with the diseases that tobacco can cause and you see some of the things that happen to people -– people have their lips removed and stuff. Tobacco is a big thing in the hockey world, a lot of guys chew, so for us to go tobacco-free is awesome and hopefully we can start a new trend,” said Pirates forward and alternate captain Andy Miele.

If you are addicted to tobacco, Maine CDC Partnership for a Tobacco Free Maine has provided resources to help you quit. The Maine Tobacco HelpLine (800-207-1230) is a free tobacco-treatment phone service staffed by specialists. Callers can request telephone counseling and quit materials. People seeking to quit tobacco can also visit TheQuitlink.com, a web-based coaching system for tobacco users. The QuitLink connects people trying to quit with others who are in the quitting process or who have successfully quit. The online support network increases the likelihood of success for people trying to quit.