Breckland Council wants to ban smoking near schools, nurseries and playgrounds

Breckland Council are planning to campaign against smoking in playareas. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Breckland Council are planning to campaign against smoking in playareas. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Smokers could soon find themselves unwelcome in play areas as a council is poised to launch a smoke-free campaign.

Breckland youngsters are going to be tasked with creating posters to encourage tobacco users to enjoy their habit elsewhere to help protect children's health.

Breckland Council's cabinet approved the voluntary scheme which will see posters designed by school children go up around playgrounds and other smoke-free zones.

This will involve co-operation from the owners of play areas, many of which are owned by parish councils.

Breckland leader Michael Wassell said: 'This is something that is going to be coming from the children.

'We are trying to shame people out of smoking around children really.

'We want people to be aware of the amount it costs the NHS.

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'It is very much not about having a big stick to punish people but about trying to encourage people to think about the health aspects and in terms of the influence it can have on children.'

The second phase of the project will also see smoke-free zones introduced outside schools and nurseries.

Speaking at the cabinet meeting Breckland councillor Pablo Dimoglou said: 'As a father of three boys who have an auntie who smokes I can see the impact it has on them when it is someone they know and respect who is smoking.

'They have never come into contact with it before.

'I think it is a great proposal.'

However some feel such a move will infringe on smokers' rights.

Simon Clark, director of the smokers' group Forest, said: 'This policy is heavy-handed and unnecessary.

'There's no evidence that smoking in the open air endangers anyone else's health, including small children.

'Nor is there evidence that children are encouraged to smoke because they see a stranger lighting up. Most start because of peer pressure or because a family member smokes. Discouraging smoking outside will make no difference.

'Once again smokers are being stigmatised because they're an easy target. Worse, the council is co-opting children to do its dirty work.'

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