The Welsh government has announced that the country is to become the first in the UK to ban smoking at children’s playgrounds and on school grounds.
A statement said “the new smoke-free measures aim to protect people’s health from the harms of second-hand smoke.”
When will the ban come into place?
While voluntary smoking bans are already currently in place for many of these settings, from March 2021 it will legally become an offence to smoke in playgrounds.
The ban will be enforced via the local authorities, who will have the power to issue fixed penalty notices.
Health minister Vaughan Gething said, “There is strong public support to restrict smoking where children are likely to be present. We will continue to take steps to de-normalise this habit and provide a very clear message for children.
“The evidence that smoking is harmful and damaging is clear cut and our message must be too.”
Smoking banned at children’s football games
Spectators at children’s football games will also be banned from smoking.
The Football Association of Wales (FAW) are set to introduce a new policy which prohibits smoking on the sidelines of children’s football games across Wales. The policy is part of a wider Smokefree Sports Wales campaign.
The policy will affect the games and training sessions for all 522 junior clubs, 3,159 teams and 42,232 players across the country.
FAW Trust technical director, Dr David Adams, said, “As a parent of children who take part in grassroots football, I am delighted to work in partnership with ASH Wales and that the FAW and FAW Trust are leading the way to help the next generation of children grow up recognising the health risks associated with smoking.
“This step change is also part of our wider agenda to ensure children’s first experiences of small sided football are positive.”
The reaction to the news has been positive for the most part, with people taking to Twitter to share their thoughts.
One person wrote, “Needs to be introduced at every kids activities! Seen first hand when coaching the kids on the weekend, a disgusting habit that doesn't need to be around the little ones.”
Another tweeted, “Good news for children in Wales.”
“Brilliant to see action in Wales to end smoking at children’s games - something that is long overdue here in England too,” wrote another.
However, smokers group Forest, criticised the move, with director Simon Clark saying, “Banning smoking on the sidelines of children’s football games has nothing to do with health.
“Smoking in the open air does not put anyone else’s health at risk, nor is there evidence that the sight of a non family member smoking encourages children to start.”