Councils move to ensure playgrounds 'smoke free'

Tue, Jul 24, 2012, 01:00

FINGAL COUNTY Council has become the first local authority in the State to formally adopt a policy ensuring all of its children’s playgrounds are “smoke-free” areas. The move came shortly after Meath County Council unanimously adopted a motion to ban smoking in its playgrounds.

Both local authorities will erect large unambiguous signs in all the playgrounds leaving no one in any doubt about their attitude towards smoking near children. The motion in Meath was brought to the council meeting by Cllr Eoin Holmes, a father of four.

A few weeks ago he brought his young children to the playground in Laytown and while there, he said, “I picked up 17 butts from the ground. It was two fistfuls. It is also littering and is unacceptable.

“There is a clear and proven impact on children’s health of secondary smoking. It is also a learnt behaviour and it endorses and normalises it,” he added.

He wants the signs, to be erected shortly at playgrounds in 15 locations, to be “easily seen” so other people who see someone smoking “will be empowered to point to the signs and say to them this is a No Smoking area”.

Cllr Holmes, a frequent visitor to the playgrounds with his children Nora (8), Milo (7), Hannah (5) and Arlo (3), said, “It smacks of common sense that there not be any smoking at the playgrounds and it should be part of efforts to try to discourage children from smoking.”

Anti-smoking group Ash Ireland has written to all county and city councils asking them to “consider making all their playgrounds and play areas used by children smoke-free”.

According to Ash Ireland, there has been an extremely positive reaction to this proposal and it is now asking other councils to follow the example of Meath County Council and others. Its spokeswoman said the decisions were an “important health initiative which also assists greatly in the denormalisation of smoking in areas which are used by children”.

The Health Service Executive welcomed the councils’ move.

Dr Nazih Eldin, head of health promotion at HSE Dublin North East, said: “Parents and adults are the most important role models for children, and supporting people not to smoke around children indoors and outdoors is one of the clearest messages we can give our children.”

Similar signs have been erected in playgrounds by Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council.