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Thursday, 30 October 2014

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Trying to enforce smoke ban would be playing with fire

On the face of it, this sounds like a sensible scheme.

Ban smoking in children’s play parks because it sets a bad example to our youngsters.

Allerdale council says it would be happy to introduce the new rules in places such as Workington, Maryport, Cockermouth, Keswick, Wigton and Aspatria.

But only if the public agreed.

Carni McCarron-Holmes, the councillor responsible for health in the borough, said: “The idea is that a voluntary ban will be introduced into play areas to encourage parents not to smoke in front of their children or other children.

“Children learn their behaviour from adults and so it’s essential that in our communities tobacco use is not seen as part of everyday life.”

Earlier this week the council held a one-hour survey, asking the public if they thought such a ban was a good idea.

But getting some public support doesn’t make it a good or workable scheme.

And making it a voluntary scheme, doesn’t make it any sort of rule or regulation at all. It completely unenforceable.

I can’t see how not seeing mummy or daddy smoke at the park when they do at home is going to influence a child.

And a youngster whose parents don’t smoke, but who sees someone puffing at a park isn’t going to suddenly think it is a great idea either.

I can’t see the harm in it. I’d rather have a mum or dad smoke at a park or out of doors than back in the house where it is more likely to affect their child’s health.

Passive smoking is a danger in a confined area, where the smoke remains concentrated and can’t evaporate.

Non-smokers have no choice but to breathe it in.

In play areas, the smoke naturally drifts away and disappears into the wide blue yonder. Usually in Cumbria, there is a gentle breeze wafting through the palm trees and this carries the smoke away.

It’s true that children are massively influenced by their parents and that if they see them doing something such as drinking, smoking using their shirt sleeve to wipe their nose...they will copy.

But if they see their parents smoking at home, in the car, out for a walk, or on holiday, how will not seeing them smoke at the playground influence them?

Carlisle City Council chiefs have already said they believe it would be difficult to enforce a ban in parks.

Which is the biggest block to any rules for out-of-doors.

There are already laws and byelaws about dropping litter and clearing up dog poo which are ignored on a daily basis.

Our councils seem powerless to enforce these regulations as we pick our way past poo and through the plastic bottles and papers on our way to the swings and slides, or as we stroll through a park, or wander along a riverside.

Of course, Allerdale may well be thinking of employing a new team of rangers or ‘parkies’ to uphold the smoking ban.

This would be the only way it would have any effect.

And would they be able to tell people to pick up litter and the mess left by their dog as well?

And can the council afford to employ the new staff?

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