Parks Alliance offers to help work out Lord Darzi's parks smoking ban idea

The Parks Alliance today indicated it could help "flesh out" a proposal to ban smoking in London's parks as the political response divided along party lines.

Park users could be told to leave their tobacco at home
Park users could be told to leave their tobacco at home

The ban suggested by top cancer surgeon Lord Darzi and backed by chief medical officer, Professor Sally Davies yesterday is part of a drive to make London the world's healthiest big city.

Darzi said the ban would help Londoners quit smoking, cut the estimated 8,000 smoker deaths a year and dissuade children – an estimated two classrooms a day – from taking it up.

"Just as smokers’ lungs are polluted, the lungs of our city – our parks and green spaces – are polluted by smoking. London should lead the way for Britain, and the Mayor should lead the way for London by acting to make our public spaces smoke free," he said.

Deputy chair of The Parks Alliance Sue Ireland said the proposal showed that policymakers and politicians were starting to take note of the health benefits of improving the quality and enjoyment of public spaces, as people who use and run parks have been doing for some time.

"The Parks Alliance would be happy to facilitate the fleshing out of the proposal and how it would work in practice, particularly given the funding cuts facing most parks.

"There are already restrictions on smoking in parks for children’s play areas and it seems sensible to expand this principle to look at protecting the health of others using parks."

But she added that it was "important to have parks users and friends groups on side and to give local authorities and park managers the resources to implement the ban."

The proposal is part of a raft of measures suggested by the Darzi-led London Health Commission in its first report. The commision was established by London Mayor Boris Johnson and urged him to ban smoking in two public areas under his control, Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square and persuade the Royal Parks and London boroughs to do the same.

However he dismissed the idea, saying that Londoners were "generally pretty laissez-faire about how people live their lives, provided that they don't break the law or harm others."

He said he would want to see "pretty clear evidence that this would have direct health benefits – that it would save lives."

Labour Mayoral hopeful Tessa Jowell, however, said that if Johnson was not prepared to bring in the ban, she would.

She told London's Evening Standard that the recommendations were "grounded in evidence and have public support with 59 per cent in favour of a ban."

A Royal Parks spokesman said: "We will look at the recommendations when we receive a copy of the report."


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