Park bans smoking in children’s play areas

Clissold Park play areas are set to become non-smoking

One of the Hackney’s most popular parks is to make its play areas smoke free in a bid to protect children’s health.

Clissold Park’s newly-restored play area, paddling pool and skate park will all be designated no smoking and signs will be displayed by the council asking people not to smoke. Although it is not enforceable legally, the council hope members of the public will uphold the ban.

Jonathan McShane

The park has recently benefited from a £9million restoration and Hackney Council’s cabinet member for community services, Jonathan McShane (left), believes this is the perfect time to implement the new scheme. He said: “The brand new play area brought with it the opportunity to make it the first smoke free children’s play area in the borough. We are all well aware of the dangers of passive smoking and our children shouldn’t have to be subjected to it. We know the majority of people wouldn’t smoke around children but we are asking everybody to act responsibly and not smoke in these areas.”

Caroline Millar, chairwoman of Clissold Park User Group, a local community group which gives a voice to park users and works with Hackney Council, said: “With so many children and families coming for fresh air and exercise, it is good to know the air really will be fresh and there will be no more cigarette butts in the sandpit.”

A recent survey commissioned by Ash (Action on Smoking and Health), found that 77 per cent of Londoners supported a ban on smoking in children’s play areas, including 55 percent of smokers.

If this scheme proves to be successful, it will be rolled out across the borough, meaning all play areas in its 62 parks could be smoke-free.

The ban comes a month after an NHS campaign was launched in Waltham Forest, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Newham to alert people to the early signs of breast cancer and lung cancer, as this area has lower cancer survival rates than the national average.

Martin Dockrell, a spokesman for Ash said: “There is a lot of support for banning smoking in children’s play areas. In this case the issue is less about the direct harm from secondhand smoke and more about the problem of smoking litter and setting an example for adult behaviour. You have to weigh up the pros against the cons and that includes making sure that the most disadvantaged families still feel the local park is a place for them. Above all this is a decision to be made with local people.”

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