Health chiefs call for public park smoking ban

Smoking could soon be banned in some outdoor public areas as well as indoor spaces, if health chiefs and local councils have their way.

smoking ban could be extended

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Local councils are hoping to create US-style 'zero-tolerance' zones that would see smoking in public parks and children's play areas outlawed.

A ban on smoking in indoor public places has been in place in England, Wales and Northern Ireland since 2007, and the sight of smokers huddled in doorways or shelters outside offices and pubs has become commonplace.

But with the help of the Government's Localism Bill, which aims to give communities and councils more power, the smoking ban could soon be extended.

Councils and NHS Trusts across the country are hoping to make "smoking history for our children" by creating smoke-free play parks, and some councils plan on extending the ban to cars carrying children.

Stony Stratford, near Milton Keynes, is one of those leading the way.

Councillor Paul Bartlett's campaign to outlaw smoking any open place or public street in the town already has the backing of senior members of the town council but will still need approval from Milton Keynes Council.

Meanwhile Cumbria Council is also considering further extensions to the ban.

Head of Health and Wellbeing for the authority, Bill Wearing told the Daily Mail: "No one wants to see anyone smoking near children's play areas. It is getting to a stage where people think it is socially unacceptable in parks.

"Once it becomes socially unacceptable, it becomes a lot easier to bring in laws."

Unsurprisingly, others are opposed to the ban. A spokesman for smokers' lobby group Forest said: "It is a completely unnecessary intrusion into people's lives."

What do you think - will an extended ban encourage more people to quit or simply force them to smoke in their homes? Leave your comments below...