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Black Cat’s Vape Attack

Sunderland AFC is swiftly becoming the leading light in a football crusade against tobacco harm reduction

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Sunderland AFC is swiftly becoming the leading light in a football crusade against tobacco harm reduction. Last year, then manager/head coach Lee Johnson launched a blinkered attack on snus pouches. Last week, the club announced that it plans on confiscating vapes and money from all visiting supporters.

Lee Johnson attacked tobacco harm reduction product snus during last year’s Stoptober for being like “smoking three or four cigarettes at one time”. His ill-judged outburst did little to encourage cigarette smokers to switch to a product that has helped Sweden achieve historically low smoking and cancer rates.

You are messing with the balance of the body and mind, that is the biggest thing for me in terms of development…With so many spikes in the body, sort of balance if you like, I don’t believe it is conducive to top performance, but more important it is not conducive to the player being healthy for a long period of time. It is nicotine going into the body and an awful lot of it…I think [the players] are uneducated on the negatives towards it…and it is effectively the equivalent of smoking three or four cigarettes at one time,” he said.

Now Sunderland AFC has announced a ban on vapes for away supporters. In a statement, it said: “We have today introduced further measures to enhance fan safety at the Stadium of Light following the recent conduct of a small minority of away supporters.

This follows an engagement session with our Supporters’ Groups, who met with the Club last week to discuss and agree upon the next steps taken to address the continually escalating societal behavioural issues currently impacting SAFC and many other Clubs.

The new measures will be in place from this weekend’s home fixture versus Cardiff City and they are in addition to the operational changes made in August, which includes the searching of all away fans upon entering the stadium, increasing stewarding capacity in the North Stand and enhancing the CCTV network.

Following dialogue with the EFL on Thursday, it is now Club policy that coins and vapes will no longer be permitted in the away section of the North Stand at the Stadium of Light.

Any visiting supporter found carrying these items will be asked to discard of them prior to entering the stadium, at which point they will be subjected to enhanced security procedures to further reduce the risk of objects entering the stadium which can be used as missiles.

This information will be clearly communicated to all visiting Clubs in advance and all vapes will be sustainably discarded, with any coins confiscated donated to the away Club’s nominated charity.

Pre-planned investment in an enhanced lighting system in the North Stand upper will also be fast tracked to further improve the effectiveness of the recently-upgraded CCTV network in identifying any anti-social behaviour.

The introduction of netting was also discussed with Supporters’ Groups, but it was agreed that netting by itself would not prevent the full range of missiles that have been thrown this season.”

The announcement was met with almost universal derision by supporters of all team across the country – including fans of The Black Cats.

On a fan forum, Walter H White said it would “Be difficult to police”.

Father Jack Hacket pointed out: “Glass bottles have never been allowed yet one was still thrown first game of the season.”

Scotty 1978 added: “How can they take peoples coins and Vapes off them? What if you’ve got an expensive vape and £50 in coins?”

RobbieD1 was exasperated: “To be honest that's a ridiculous idea, not even close to being a solution, what will they do search every fan going in now. Mostly away fans behave, would piss me off if they were taking my money off me.”

Ashley In said: “You've got to admire the sheer stupidity of the decision makers at the club.”

JackL echoed the point: “Banning coins and vapes is genuinely laughable - my vape cost me about £40 and I'd be expected to just chuck that away.”

The Archer was amazed: “Another ridiculous idea. Who in their right mind throws an expensive vaping device, or are they gonna check whether they are the disposable ones?”

Meanwhile, the brilliantly named Ghandi Floss added: “Without doubt the silliest solution. Who on earth came up with it? We really are clueless at times.”

Sunderland AFC lost to Cardiff 0-1 this weekend. Nobody on social media reported having their vape confiscated and disposed of so maybe the club has seen sense.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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