Smoke-free scheme for city play areas

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Smoke-free code launch © heartofmersey.org.uk

Smoke-free code launch © heartofmersey.org.uk

A smoke-free scheme for Liverpool’s play areas has been launched at Croxeth Park by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Sharon Suvillian.

The ‘no smoking’ code aims to reduce the number of youngsters who start smoking after seeing adults lighting up around a playground.

More than 40 Liverpool play areas will be covered by the code, which was developed by health charity Heart of Mersey (HoM) in partnership with the council and the Cheshire and Merseyside Tobacco Alliance.

Robin Ireland, chief executive of the Heart of Mersey charity, said: “We are of course delighted that Liverpool has launched smoke-free play areas to follow the other Merseyside authorities. The first local programme was introduced in Halton in October 2011 and all have been very successful.”

Jo McCullagh, who leads the Health and Tobacco control programme for HoM, told JMU Journalism: “People smoking in children’s play areas is a fairly common sight, and as such can be perceived by youngsters as a harmless, acceptable, everyday activity. The reality is that this is a habit that is highly addictive and it kills.

“A child who smokes just one cigarette doubles their chances of becoming a regular smoker by the age of 17. We want to use this voluntary code to de-normalise smoking in areas where children play and learn and protect children in the very environment in which they should be safe.”

A survey of 1,408 adults in 87 play areas across Cheshire and Merseyside found that 88.7% supported the introduction of a smoke-free code in children’s play areas, including the majority of smokers.

Jo told JMU Journalism: “I do feel the Liverpool Play smoke-free initiative will be successful as there is wide public support for the scheme.”

Locally, seven councils across Cheshire and Merseyside have already implemented a voluntary smoke-free code across a total of 602 outdoor play areas.

About Rachael Laird, JMU Journalism