Health: ‘Smoke-free play areas are a no-brainer but should we extend the smoking ban?’

Picture by Jonathan Brady/ PA Wire.
Picture by Jonathan Brady/ PA Wire.
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Ever since the health implications of smoking were realised, sparking up in the vicinity of playgrounds has always been frowned upon.

Anybody who lacks the common sense to protect their children, or other children for that matter, from the evident dangers of passive smoking in somewhere as blatantly child-centred as a playground should be ashamed of themselves.

Personally I think it’s a great idea for Leeds City Council to join others in the UK and abroad in bringing in a ban but it is a sad fact that people need to be told at all.

The reality is that this is a voluntary ban, meaning there wont be council officers patrolling play areas, so the responsibility to police places that attract youngsters remains with us to a certain extent.

Nevertheless, the council’s statement of intent on this matter should be applauded.

It follows the move to protect children from passive smoking in cars that was announced earlier this year. The ban, which will become law in October, will make it illegal for anyone with under 18s in their car in England to smoke.

There is no justification for smoking in enclosed spaces with children present or in spaces designed specifically for children.

A new Royal Society for Public Health report has gone even further to suggest that the 2007 public smoking ban should be extended to beer gardens, al fresco eating areas of restaurants, parks, and outside school gates.

But as much as I’m generally opposed to smoking, it seems taking away the right for people to smoke in most outdoor spaces where adults gather is a little strong.

Protecting our children must be top of the list of priorities.

THE IMPACT OF SMOKING ON CHILDREN

Smoke can stay in the air for up to two and a half hours even with a window open – this also applies in small enclosed places like cars.

Second-hand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, some of which are known to cause cancer.

Exposure to second-hand smoke has been strongly linked to chest infections, asthma, ear problems and cot death in children.

Bans on smoking in cars when children are present already exist in some US states as well as in parts of Canada and Australia.

More than 430,000 children are exposed to second-hand smoke in cars each week.

PIC: Simon Hulme

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