Swaffham and Thetford introduce voluntary smoke-free zones around children’s play areas

Breckland Council is trialling a new scheme to make some areas where children play smoke-free. L-R:

Breckland Council is trialling a new scheme to make some areas where children play smoke-free. L-R: Heather Chant, 13, Marion Chapman-Allen, Breckland Council executive member for public protection, Craig Fowler, Breckland Council food, health and safety manager, and Rebekah Chant, 9, at the Sandy Lane play area in Dereham. - Credit: Archant

Town councillors have given the green light to an initiative to introduce voluntary smoke-free zones in areas used by children.

Swaffham and Thetford Town Councils have signed up to the scheme to introduce smoke-free zones across Breckland and will put up signs requesting adults not to smoke in play areas the councils are responsible for.

The Breckland Council scheme is challenging children in the district to come up with a winning design for the smoke-free signs, and the clock is ticking towards the competition deadline on March 25.

The project is supported by the Eastern Daily Press, who will join the judging panel to help decide the winning designs.

Winners in each of the four age categories will receive an iPad mini and will see their designs transformed into signs, broadcasting their plea to adults who smoke to do so responsibly.

Swaffham Mayor Anne Thorpe said: 'The aim of putting up these signs is to help protect the future health of our children, so we really liked the idea of involving them in their design.

'I think that the signs will certainly help discourage adults from smoking near where children are playing - all these small measures make a difference.'

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Thetford Mayor Robert Kybird said: 'We are not asking people not to smoke – just politely asking them not to do so in Thetford's play areas as they are used by children.

'Protecting the health of our young people is everyone's concern and this is a great opportunity to encourage responsible behaviour, and set a good example to children involved.'

Marion Chapman-Allen, Breckland Council executive member for public protection, said: 'I am delighted that both Thetford and Swaffham Town Council are backing this initiative.

'Research shows that if young people see smoking as part of everyday life they are more likely to become smokers themselves, so we hope to see this voluntary code adopted as widely as possible in areas where children play and learn. The future health of our young people is everyone's concern.'

For more information about the competition and how to enter, go to www.breckland.gov.uk/smoke-free-poster, or call the Environmental Services Team on 01362 656313. Submissions must be accompanied by an entry form, which can be downloaded from the website.

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