Report by Tom Wright , Reporter
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
PARTS of Weston beach and all council-owned play areas are being made smoke-free zones.
The innovative initiative, jointly launched by NHS North Somerset and North Somerset Council, has been widely praised by health professionals and parents.
Although the ban is a voluntary one, smokers will now be expected to stub out at playgrounds and at the play concession areas on Weston beach. Almost three quarters of parents polled supported the idea.
Becky Pollard, director of public health for NHS North Somerset, said this protected children’s rights.
She said: “Children have the right to experience a smoke-free environment while enjoying leisure activities in the play areas around the district.”
The health body believes if fewer children get used to seeing smoking on a day-to-day basis, the chances of them wanting to take up the habit will decrease.
About 1,600 people quit smoking last year using the NHS North Somerset Stop Smoking Service and it is hoped this new ban will encourage more to follow suit.
An estimated 300 people in North Somerset die each year as a result of smoking-related illnesses and life-long smokers tend to live 10 years less on average.
Ms Pollard said in light of these figures it was vital that the next generation is kept away from smoking as much as possible.
She said: “There is strong recognition by the Government that children are entitled to be protected from second-hand smoke and adults should act on the advice to protect the health of children. I hope that this move will result in children being able to enjoy their activity outdoors in an environment free from tobacco smoke.”