Children’s play areas across Lancashire are to go smoke free in an effort to stop youngsters taking up smoking.
Lancashire County Council is introducing a Smokefree Play Code at all children’s play areas within local authority-owned parks.
The scheme is voluntary, but the council hopes that park users will abide by the code when they are in play areas.
It will be introduced over next year in Preston, Chorley, South Ribble, Lancaster, Wyre and Fylde.
Smokefree signs will be installed in parks and staff will be given training and resources to tell people about the code and the resources that are available to help people quit smoking.
The code will cover play areas which are fenced off and contain play equipment for children. It does not cover general parks and open spaces.
County Coun Azhar Ali, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “Stopping children becoming smokers and forming a habit that could ultimately kill them is one of our key priorities.
“Children learn this habit from adults and three out of every four children are aware of smoking by the time they are five years old.
“The more they see people smoke, the more they see it as a normal part of everyday life, and the more likely they are to become smokers themselves.
“We hope adults will agree that this is a good enough reason not to light up in playgrounds and support our Smokefree Play Code.”
When the scheme was first proposed in September it divided opinion, North West MEP Paul Nuttall said the moves were “a gross infringement of people’s liberties.”
The UKIP deputy leader added: “I don’t want to encourage anyone, particularly children, to smoke but we live in a free society and banning smoking in public parks will make no difference to whether kids take up the habit or not.”
However, some commenters on the Evening Post website approved. The Moss posted: “I long for the day that smoking is banned in all public places.
“If people choose to poison themselves then they should kindly do it in their own home without poisoning those around them.”