Mums want town parks to be smoke free
A voluntary ban on smoking in the town is to be introduced by Chippenham councillors.
Cigarettes could be banished from the High Street and play parks by town councillors after they were told by member Dr Bret Palmer that about 55 people a year in Chippenham are dying due to smoking.
The ban will not be enforceable, but the council’s leisure and amenities committee hopes that posters in children’s handwriting, displayed at play area entrances, will appeal to smokers to think twice before lighting up.
Public Health England 2011/12 figures show that 17 per cent of adults in Wiltshire smoke, compared to 20 per cent nationally.
But 14 per cent of pregnant women in the county have not kicked the habit, one per cent more than the national average.
The posters were first trialled in Sedgemoor, Somerset. Since August this year they have been put up in 25 play areas in Bath and the council there is looking to extend it.
Dr Palmer, who brought the idea to Chippenham, wants to go a step further and install signs not only at the entrances to the town’s nine play areas but also in the High Street.
A motion for a voluntary ban “in all appropriate areas of the town” received unanimous support from the committee’s members, who all said they did not smoke.
Dr Palmer, a registrar in public health, said where such campaigns had been adopted, there had been a 20 per cent reduction in smoking.
He said: “We want to make Chippenham a healthier place to live and work.
“It isn’t a prohibitive ban, it is a polite request. There’s nothing we can do to stop them but it has been known to be effective. The only cost will be to erect the signs.”
Adrian Jones, head of service delivery at the town council, said he was unable to estimate how much it would cost.
Mums in John Coles Park who we spoke to all loved the idea – and some thought a voluntary ban did not go far enough.
Dr Suzie McRitchie-Pratt, 41, of Stanley, said: “We just need to be more aggressive, to make it socially unacceptable in public places, particularly where there are children. And in the High Street too, the more the merrier. There is a lot of support in place for people who want to quit.”
Zoe Jennings, 38, of St Mary Street, said: “By its very nature a park is where children go and we don’t want them to see people smoking.
“But will people do it if it’s voluntary? They already feel bullied enough.”
Rachel Drew, 32, of Malmesbury Road, said: “They should have park wardens to keep smokers out.”
Chippenham resident Paul Newman, 45, of The Paddocks, was not so keen. He said: “First inside and now this. Where will it all end? Next I won’t be able to walk down the street with a cheeseburger.”
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