Agenda item

Smoke Free Play Areas


The Board considered a report of the Strategic Director, Communities which informed Members of the proposal to make public play areas in Halton Smoke Free and provide Members with an opportunity to comment on the proposal.


The Board was advised that the report set out a proposal to implement a voluntary code to make children’s play areas smoke free.  The initiative aimed to de-normalise smoking amongst young children and reduce the likelihood of them becoming smokers in the future.


The Board was further advised that 26% of adults in the Borough smoked. Whilst this level had decreased over recent years the level was still above the national average. Halton’s rate of early deaths caused by smoking remained significantly higher then the national average. Reducing the rates of illness and death caused by smoking was one of Halton’s key public health priorities. To achieve this objective there was a need to reduce the number of people who smoked. This includeed initiatives that helped prevent Halton’s children from becoming the next generation of smokers.


It was reported that internationally, smoking in public play areas and parks was already prohibited in Spain, Hong Kong, Latvia, Singapore and in cities in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA, including New York and San Francisco.


In the UK Inverclyde council in Scotland had made all of their play areas smoke free with 90% of residents supporting the initiative. Pendle council in Lancashire had prohibited smoking in their 57 outdoor play areas and skate parks in 2010.


Furthermore, the Halton Smoke Free Play areas initiative was being undertaken as a partnership between Halton BC, Halton and St Helens PCT.  The Heart of Cheshire and the Cheshire & Merseyside Tobacco Alliance (CMTA).  Liverpool, Sefton and Knowsley Council’s werecurrently consulting their residents with a view to implementing a similar voluntary scheme in their area. 


In conclusion, it was reported that children from Oakfield primary school in Widnes had designed signs and slogans that would be used for the smoke free play areas in Halton. It was intended that the design for these signs would eventually be used across Merseyside by authorities who adopt the scheme.


The following points arose from the discussion:-


·        Concern was raised that employees could be at risk when giving advice and guidance to people smoking in play areas as it could create a confrontational situation.  In response, it was reported that the survey had shown that there was a lot of public support for the proposal and the signs would be erected in play areas where children and young people congregated. It was also reported that it would not create conflict as the Wardens would only be highlighting the signs and passing on child friendly literature.  In addition, the Wardens had been issuing Fixed Penalty Notices for a considerable time and were trained with the necessary skills to give advice and deal with aggressive people.   It was also reported that Senior Managers had indicated that they would be happy for their employees to take on the additional task;


·        It was suggested and agreed that Trade Unions be consulted on the proposal;


·        It was noted that the proposal formed part of a comprehensive approach about the dangers of smoking around children i.e the Take Seven Steps Campaign on television; and


·        The Members of the Board supported the proposal, in particular the signs in play areas.


RESOLVED: That the Board support the proposal for a voluntary code to make children’s play areas in Halton smoke free.

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