Sunderland City Council has introduced smokefree scheme in all city parks across Sunderland.
The scheme has the support of local people with 70 per cent approval rate of the scheme in a survey carried out by Sunderland City Council during the planning.
Gillian Gibson, director of public health at Sunderland City Council, said: “We know that most parents, both smokers and non-smokers, do not want their children to start. We also know that children copy what they see and seeing adults smoking around them can make them more curious and interested in it.
“Smoking is an addiction that often starts in childhood. With the introduction of this voluntary code we hope to reduce the opportunities for children to see people smoking.”
Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, UK’s first dedicated regional tobacco control programme, said: “There’s strong support in the North East for people not smoking in playgrounds and clearly these plans for Sunderland have the support of local parents and children.
“Voluntary schemes like these are not bans, but a recognition that there are some places where it is less appropriate to smoke. In our experience, the vast majority of people who smoke completely understand this.”
The sign, with the message “Thank you for not smoking where we play”, will be displayed near areas in entrances in parks across the city.
The scheme is part of a wider drive to reduce smoking rates across the city.
According to NHS data, smoking statistics in England from 1 January 1980 to 31 March 2018 show that 19 per cent of pupils in years 7 to 11 (mostly aged 11 to 15) reported they had tried smoking at least once; six per cent of pupils were current smokers and three per cent were regular smokers.
Sunderland Councillor Dr Geoffrey Walker said: “Around 23 per cent of adults smoke in Sunderland. It’s the leading cause of preventable death and disease and we need to do all we can not only to support smokers who want to quit, but also to prevent our young people from smoking in the first place.
“This isn’t about a ban — we are just politely asking parents to support the scheme by keeping our parks smoke free and we hope people will see the reasons behind it and support the scheme.”
Martin Pinder, one of the regular visitors of Mowbray Park in Sunderland and a grandparent of a couple of three school-age children, thinks to stop children from smoking, attention should also be given to e-cigarettes.
Watch a video interview with Mr Pinder below: