Extend the smoking ban

Burning cigarette

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) is supporting renewed calls from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) for the extension of smoking exclusion zones. The
CIEH is calling for a smoking ban in places where children play or learn, including parks, playgrounds and local markets – backed by majority public support for the measures.

The CIEH found: 56% of all adults in the UK would support a smoking ban in public parks. Parents who smoke in front of their children are more likely to do so when they are away from the home in pub gardens (45%) and public spaces (42%), such as parks and playgrounds, compared to when they are at home (27%) or in the car (13%). More than 1 in 2 people (56%) think that more should be done to raise awareness of the need for smoke-free public places. Parents are more likely to move their children away when someone they know is smoking near their children (54%) and only 13% would ask them to stop or ask them to move away (15%).

The call follows original research published by RSPH in its August 2015 paper ‘Stopping smoking through other forms of nicotine’ which proposed that extending the hugely successful indoor smoking ban to encompass school gates, immediately outside pubs and bars, and public events aimed at families, would help to de-normalise smoking and prevent people from picking up their first cigarette.

Under these proposals e-cigarettes would be exempt from the exclusion zones. Research from PHE found that e-cigs are 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes and should be considered as a vital tool in smoking cessation efforts – keeping them exempt would encourage tobacco smokers to make the switch.

Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive, RSPH said: “Every year in the UK 270,000 children will take up smoking – an addiction that will end up killing half of them. De-normalising smoking around children must be a top public health priority to help prevent them from taking up this deadly habit.

This compelling data which shows strong public support for measures that tackle smoking in public, particularly around children, is a welcome addition in our bid to make our communities smoke-free. Future generations shouldn’t have to grow up learning and playing in environments where smoking is portrayed as a normal behaviour. Anything we can do as a society to de-normalise smoking should be encouraged for the sake of our future generations’ health and wellbeing. Extending the smoking ban to outside areas would certainly be a positive step towards realising this goal.”

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