28th September 2016 – 

Health campaigners are calling for voluntary smoking bans wherever children are at play.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) says a YouGov survey found that more than 9 out of 10 adults in Wales would support a ban in children’s play areas and that 65% would like to see a total ban in all public parks.

It says Wales has demonstrated the strongest support among all the countries of the UK.

Protecting children from tobacco harm

Wales has pioneered some of the toughest laws to protect children from the harmful effects of smoking.

Now, the CIEH says it wants to see no-smoking zones extended to help protect young people’s health and demonstrate that smoking is not normal behaviour.

In a statement, Julie Barratt from CIEH, says:

“It is abundantly clear that the vast majority of people would support restrictions on smoking in children’s play areas. We would like to see smoking being stubbed out wherever children play or learn. This would not only include children’s playgrounds but would see no smoking zones extended to public parks, zoos, and theme parks. Children should be able to have fun and enjoy themselves without having to see someone smoking and thinking that is normal behaviour.”

Other key findings from the YouGov survey found that:

  • 42% of parents have moved their children away when someone they know was smoking near their children and only 12% said they have asked others to stop smoking nearby, with 7% having asked them to move away
  • 63% of people in Wales think that more should be done to raise awareness of the need for smoke-free public places

World Environmental Health Day

CIEH says a survey of environmental health managers across the UK found that more than 6 out of 10 thought that their authority would support the extension of no smoking policies to children’s play areas.

The results have been released to coincide with World Environmental Health Day.

Since July 2007, smoking has been prohibited in virtually all enclosed and substantially enclosed work and public places in England and throughout the United Kingdom including public transport and work vehicles.

‘A public health priority’

Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, comments in a statement: “Every year in the UK 270,000 children will take up smoking – an addiction that will end up killing half of them. De-normalising smoking around children must be a top public health priority to help prevent them from taking up this deadly habit.

“This compelling data which shows strong public support for measures that tackle smoking in public, particularly around children, is a welcome addition in our bid to make our communities smoke-free. Future generations shouldn’t have to grow up learning and playing in environments where smoking is portrayed as a normal behaviour. Anything we can do as a society to de-normalise smoking should be encouraged for the sake of our future generations’ health and wellbeing. Extending the smoking ban to outside areas would certainly be a positive step towards realising this goal.”