Smoking ban plan for play areas across Lancashire

STUB IT OUT: A play area with the smoking ban in force

STUB IT OUT: A play area with the smoking ban in force

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Smoking could be banned at every play park in Lancashire, in an effort to stop children picking up the habit.

Lancashire County Council has been trialling a scheme which has seen a ban on smoking in play park areas so that young people are not exposed to the habit from an early age.

The project, coupled with education, has so far only taken place in east Lancashire parks but now the full council is being asked to extend the ban to parks in central and north Lancashire.

A report prepared by the director of public health has already been seen by the cabinet member for health and wellbeing, Coun Azhar Ali, and will now go to a forthcoming meeting of the full council.

Councillors will be told that children and young people in Lancashire are still taking up smoking and local statistics have revealed high rates of use in shisha and the use of e-cigarettes by under 18s.

The aim is to stop people smoking in and around play areas so children won’t be either exposed to smoke, or see it as a normal activity.

At the moment it is estimated that 16 per cent of 14-17 year olds smoke and the vast majority of people actually start before the age of 19.

The council report suggests using £200,000 from the public health budget over two years to pay for the county council’s share of training and information programmes to “de-normalise” children’s exposure to smoking in play areas and “reduce young people’s access to, and use of, shisha and e-cigarettes to ensure they live smokefree healthy lives.”

Smokers cost the county an estimated £316.6m a year, including sick days, lost productivity, fires, litter and deaths, and health chiefs are worried that smoking rates among young people are higher than national figures.

No date has yet been set for the issue to be discussed.