Nottingham in smoke-free play areas move

Signs designed by local children urge smokers to protect youngsters' health in park play areas.

Nottingham is trying to make playgrounds and areas around school gates smoke-free to protect children's health and dissuade them from taking up smoking.

Signs designed by school children will be displayed in 126 playgrounds and made available for primary schools to place at their gates.

The move follows a smoking ban in London Borough of Hackney's Clissold Park play area (HW, 26 August) and a trial by London Borough of Sutton in Beddington Park playground this summer (HW, 24 July).

Pendle Council in Lancashire opened a smoke-free playground in Sough Park last month and has signs in its other playgrounds, games areas and skate parks.

A Nottingham City Council spokeswoman said: "While smoke-free playgrounds are not enforceable by law, community protection officers patrol the city's parks," she said. "Those caught dropping cigarette butts are subject to a fixed penalty notice of £75.

"We are asking people to willingly comply to protect the health of children. Youngsters have told us they don't want their parents smoking in these areas. Apart from debate from a few smokers on local radio, overall feedback is very positive."

The initiative is being funded by NHS Nottingham City and the Department of Health.

Consultant David Lambert, a director of The Parks Agency, said: "Smoke-free zones are small scale against the tsunami facing parks' budgets. There are more pressing things and peer pressure to stop smoking is all around us, I can't see that this adds to it."

Next Field director Peter Wilkinson said: "I am in favour. Some years ago Bristol banned smoking in Hengrove Park playground and most smokers didn't object."

Second-hand smoke - Children hospitalised

Nottingham has one of the highest rates of smoking in the country, according to Government figures. Every year, at least 45 children aged five or under are admitted to hospital in Nottingham as a result of exposure to second-hand smoke. Of these, 67 per cent are under the age of five.

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