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Say No to Smoking in Play Areas

by timpickstone on 9 November, 2011

My regular column in the Prestwich Advertiser:

Bury Council recently agreed to a proposal from the Liberal Democrat councillors to introduce a ban on smoking in children’s play areas. The details of the ban will be worked up over the next few months by the Council for introduction in the new year.

If Bury takes this step, then we will be the first local council in Greater Manchester to introduce a smoking ban in play areas.

No doubt some people will criticise us for taking this step, and question why we would want to stop people from smoking in an outdoor area.

If an adult chooses to smoke then that’s our own decision, but what made us make this proposal was the shocking medical figures about the damage that smoking does when people start smoking in childhood (e.g. early teens. Some statistics show that a shocking 50% of people who start in childhood early and continue smoking as an adult will eventually die of a smoking related condition. There is also evidence that children are particularly vulnerable to “passive smoking” (smoke inhaled from someone else’s cigarette).

Banning smoking in children’s play areas will only make a small difference. But it does send out a strong message from the Council that this is wrong. Other campaigns will help also such as the “take six steps out” campaign to encourage parents who smoke to not smoke in the doorway.

At the moment this is just a “voluntary ban”. My hope is that one day Councils would have the power to agree legally binding bans in a small number of specific outdoor areas (places like schools and hospitals).

One of the core values of Liberal Democrats is that everyone should have a fair chance and a fair start in life. Starting smoking as a teenager ranks as one of the worst starts to life you can have, and as a council we should do what we can to steer children away from this.

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