Hackney Council has introduced smoke-free zones in the parts of Clissold Park used extensively by children.
This extends the existing smoking ban operating in the play areas of 13 major parks across the borough.
The smoke free zone seeks to avoid children being exposed to smoking as, according to Hackney Council, 18 per cent of 16 to 17 year olds smoke, as well as a quarter of all adults.
A spokesperson from Hackney Council made it clear that it will not stop at one park and said: “[the Council] has made a commitment to creating no smoking areas in our major parks. Clissold Park has been chosen as the first.”
Clissold Park’s bye-laws do not cover smoking, so the ‘ban’ does not have legal force, but new signs now ask residents not to smoke in the pleasure gardens, outdoor classroom, paddling pool, animal enclosures and dog-free space. The Council is relying on the “goodwill” of park users to ensure the areas remain smoke free.
Cllr Jonathan McShane, cabinet member for Health, Social Care and Culture said “People will still be able to smoke in the park but the majority of residents can enjoy a day out without having their children subjected to second-hand smoke or being influenced by seeing others do it.
“Hackney’s Health and Wellbeing Board has made smoking one of its top priorities and we want to make it easier to quit as well making it less likely that young people will start smoking in the first place.”
Clissold Park User Group was consulted on the initiative and has given its backing to the smoke-free zones. But the prospect of smoking bans in public parks has not been universally welcomed.
Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ campaign group Forest described bans on smoking in outdoor parks as “excessive and unnecessary” noting most smokers use common sense and do not light up near large groups of children. He said:
“The smoking ban was introduced to protect bar workers from the alleged effects of secondhand smoke. There’s no risk to third parties, including children, if you light up in the open air, so what’s the point?
“If the idea is to protect children from the sight of an adult smoking then councillors are intruding in an area that is none of their business. This is a matter for parents, not local government.
“The war on smokers is getting ridiculous. Tobacco is a legal product. Has Hackney Council got nothing better to do?”
For more information about Clissold Park see: www.clissoldpark.com/facilities/