Young people from across Wales will mark the 5th anniversary of the ban on smoking in enclosed premises by calling on every local authority in Wales to ban smoking in its playgrounds.
Caerphilly Council has just banned smoking in almost 100 play areas after a campaign by the local Youth Forum. Local schoolchildren will now design the signs to help enforce it.
A Freedom of Information request by ASH Wales has revealed that just 2 out of Wales’s 22 local authorities have official policies prohibiting smoking in children’s playgrounds.
Despite pressure from the Welsh Government to reduce the harm caused by second hand smoke to children, only Caerphilly and Powys Councils have extended their smoke-free policy to outdoor areas.
A survey by Yougov in 2012 shows that 79% of Welsh adults now believe that smoking should not be allowed in playgrounds, in order to protect children from second hand smoke and litter.
Young campaigners will gather in Cardiff Bay this week to mark the anniversary of Wales’s smoke-free legislation by holding a Kick Butts Day event. Kick Butts Day is a global campaign to allow young people to take action and speak out against the harm caused by tobacco use.
The issue of passive smoking in parks was this year signalled as a priority by the Caerphilly Youth Forum.
A competition will now be run in local schools across the borough to design signs that will go up in all of the local authority run play areas to help enforce the ban.
Gerraint Jones-Griffiths aged 15, Environment Project Group Representative on the Caerphilly Youth Forum said:
"I believe not only as an environment rep for the Youth Forum but also as a citizen in South Wales that it is a great suggestion to ban smoking in Parks to make Caerphilly a better County!"
Joel Price aged 15 (Deputy Representative) said:
“The Youth Forum told the Council it was a real issue that people were smoking in Parks and it was spoiling things for the young people in the borough. They wanted the council to ban smoking in all parks and Children’s Play Areas. The fact that the ban has been agreed is an amazing success for the Youth Forum and a huge success for Caerphilly. The amazement I'm feeling is beyond excitement. Let's hope the rest of Caerphilly respect this and take on board that it will be better for everyone."
Rob Hartshorn, Caerphilly County Borough Council Head of Public Protection, said,
“We welcome this decision as smoking continues to be the largest single preventable cause of ill health and premature death in Wales, causing around 5,650 deaths each year. This includes the harm caused to non-smokers who have inhaled second hand smoke. We as a council are trying to encourage young people and children to see non-smoking as the best thing for their health. Erecting signs in play areas across the borough will also encourage parents who smoke to attempt to quit.”
ASH Wales which launched a national campaign for smoke-free playgrounds in 2010 has developed a toolkit to help local authorities implement playground bans which can be found on their website www.ashwales.org.uk
Chief Executive Elen de Lacy, said:
“We are delighted that Caerphilly Council has taken this step to ban smoking in its playgrounds and is committed to making sure people take notice of it.
“All Councils in Wales already have the power to ban and enforce this rule and we want to see them all following Caerphilly’s lead.
“We know that children are at particular risk from second hand smoke and that they are more likely to start smoking themselves if they see adults doing it in a family friendly environment. It is vital that we de-normalise smoking to reduce the rates of young people taking it up and also reduce their exposure to smoke in areas that they gather.”
Kick Butts Day is an annual celebration of youth activism and leadership for young people in Wales. Kick Butts Day (KBD) falls on the 4th of April 2012 and in order to celebrate Wales’s five years of Smoke Free, young people from schools, youth groups and community groups from across Wales will gather for a celebration/ campaign event at the Oval Basin, Cardiff Bay from 11am to 3pm.
The Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health (SCOTH) confirmed that exposure to second-hand smoke can cause:
- lung cancer and heart disease in adult non-smokers
- respiratory disease
- cot death
- middle ear disease
- asthmatic attacks in children
The committee concluded that second-hand smoke is a serious public health risk.
The report can be found on the UK's Department of Health website.
15 people a day die from smoking-related disease in Wales – that’s one person every 90 minutes (5,650 a year)