Children’s play areas across North East Lincolnshire are going smoke free as part of efforts to create a world free from tobacco and foster a healthier environment for children.
The plans being introduced by North East Lincolnshire Council’s Public Health team have seen signage starting to be installed at all children’s play areas in the borough.
Smoking is one of the biggest causes of early death and preventable ill health, like heart disease, stroke, lung disease and cancers, in North East Lincolnshire. Over six people a day and over 2,000 people each year are admitted to hospital due to smoking related harm in North East Lincolnshire alone.
In 2018/19, smoking-related harms in North East Lincolnshire cost the Council some £3.9-million. It is the Government’s ambition to make smoking obsolete by 2030.
Councillor Stan Shreeve, portfolio holder for health, wellbeing and adult social care at North East Lincolnshire Council, said:
“I think this is an overwhelmingly positive move. We consulted members of the public on this issue and it was immediately clear that there was strong support – 98% of people who responded to our consultation agreed with the idea, and this included smokers and non-smokers across different age groups.
“Three out of four children are aware of cigarettes before they reach the age of five, regardless of whether their parents smoke.
“The number of 15-year olds who smoke in North East Lincolnshire is 3% higher than the national average, and more pregnant women here are still smoking at the time of giving birth.
“Children and young people should be able to play with their friends in an environment free from smoke, and I’m optimistic that this move will help ensure that happens.”
Councillor Stewart Swinburn, portfolio holder for environment and transport at North East Lincolnshire Council, said:
“Our public spaces should be places where everyone can enjoy, without the risk of breathing in harmful second-hand smoke.
“Seeing somebody else smoking can be a very powerful visual cue, which can trigger cravings in former smokers and those trying to quit. It also normalises the practice. By removing this from our play areas, we’re hoping to make smoking less of a common practice in front of young children.
“I’m pleased that this policy has been supported overwhelmingly by members of the public.
“We need to ensure that our children have safe and clean spaces that they can play and grow, and this helps to achieve this.”