It’s been six years since the health act caused smoking indoors to be banned, but now in the town of Blackpool they’ve decided to take it one step further: Movements are being made to ban smoking in thirteen of Blackpools’ parks and playing fields with signage being displayed at their entrances informing that the areas have now become smoke-free sights.
Understandably this has caused quite a bit of consternation in certain members of the public.
The thinking behind this proposal is as simple as their posters message: “To protect children this is a designated smoke free site.” Proposed as part of the “Altogether Now – a Legacy for Blackpool” health promotion campaign, (a partnership between Blackpool Council, NHS Blackpool and Blackpool Football Club.) These signs have the backing of many, including Council member Ivan Taylor, chairman of Blackpools’ Health and Wellbeing Board, who stated that “The idea is to protect the children who are on the playgrounds…I don’t think it is reasonable for children who are playing to be suffering from inhaling (cigarette smoke).”
Another backer, Dr Amanda Doyle, Blackpool GP and clinical lead for Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), in response to criticism, has said: “As a GP, I see first-hand the catastrophic effect smoking has on families. Almost 400 people die every year in Blackpoolas a result of their smoking, while 8,000 are receiving medical care for preventable smoking-related conditions. That is why Blackpool CCG is delighted Blackpool Council have agreed to use the strength and impact of Altogether Now – a Legacy for Blackpool to get this important message across.”
However this new campaign has not been met with universal approval; Gary Pennington, chairman of the Friends of Highfield Park, said the money for signs could be better spent elsewhere. “Why is there money to spend on these signs, when we cannot get funding for signs to warn against dog fouling, which is a much more serious issue and which affects health?”
And implying that banning adults from smoking might mean that children will have their outside play time curtailed: ‘If people think they are going to be harassed for smoking outdoors they are less likely to take their children to the park.’ Stated Belinda Cunnison, from Freedom2choose.And this isn’t the only dissenting voice, others have come forward, emphasising the need of educating children towards the perils of smoking, rather than implicating a universal ban: “I don’t smoke, but I can respect the fact other people do and while I recognise we need to prevent young people from smoking. This smacks of common sense having gone out of the window.”
At this time there is no way to enforce the ban, although it is possible that at some point the council may wish to introduce by-laws under the Localism Bill.