Non-profit takes aim at youth tackle football in smoking new PSA

The campaign, created in partnership with Fingerpaint, is capitalizing on an uptick in CTE awareness.

A child puffing a cigarette would certainly give you a reason to do a double-take -- but an afternoon game of pee wee tackle football might not make you look twice. 

NY-headquartered health and wellness marketing agency Fingerpaint and The Concussion Legacy Foundation’s aims to change that with a jarring new PSA. 

The work equates letting children under the age of 14 play tackle football to not just allowing them to smoke, but gleefully lighting up a cigarette for them due to the long term risk of CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, associated with contact football. 

CTE, which is a neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated head injuries, has captured headlines over the years as the scourge of the NFL and other full-contact sports leagues.

In fact, in 2011 neuropathologist  Dr. Ann McKee examined the brains of 111 NFL players who had played various positions and found that 110 of them had CTE. 

Symptoms include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, anxiety, suicidality, parkinsonism, and, eventually, progressive dementia, and can only be diagnosed after death.

The piece features a junior squad playing tackle football and then moves on to them taking puffs of cigarettes provided by their coach and parents. 

The PSA’s point is clear. 

Allowing children to play tackle football puts them at undue risk of CTE during their most formative years, and should be as unacceptable as handing your child a cigarette. 

According to Fingerpaint and The Concussion Legacy Foundation, flag football is a much safer and still fun alternative to tackle football, at least until children are 14. 

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