Wales to ban smoking on children’s playgrounds in bid to ‘de-normalise’ habit

A child playing in a playground. Picture by the Welsh Government.

The Welsh Government will ban smoking on school grounds, hospital grounds and public playgrounds from March next year, the Health Minister has announced today.

Vaughan Gething said that the aim was to discourage smoking and to help the government’s efforts against Covid-19.

This will make Wales the first country in the UK to legislate for bans on smoking at playgrounds and school grounds.

Similar restrictions on hospital grounds are in the process of being implemented in Scotland.

The new smoke-free measures aim to protect people’s health from the harms of second-hand smoke and further de-normalise smoking behaviours for children and young people, the Welsh Government said.

 

‘Risk’

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said that there was strong public support to restrict smoking where children are likely to be present.

“We will continue to take steps to de-normalise this habit and provide a very clear message for children,” he said. “The evidence that smoking is harmful and damaging is clear cut and our message must be too.

“The restrictions for hospital grounds will promote behaviour change and support smoking cessation among smokers who use our hospital sites and services. Support for our stop smoking service Help Me Quit is available across these sites, by calling 0808 163 3129 for free, or by visiting www.helpmequit.wales.

“The impact of COVID-19 has affected many areas of our lives, yet we are determined to continue to make sustained and positive changes.

“Whilst the evidence on smoking and COVID-19 is still emerging, smokers generally have an increased risk of contracting respiratory infections, such as COVID-19, and so the introduction of these requirements are supporting our response to the pandemic.

“We are committed to our longer-term goal of making more of Wales’ public spaces smoke-free, helping people to make positive changes to not only their own lives, but also to the health and well-being of their children and families.”

Voluntary smoking bans are already in place in many of these settings but from March 2021, it will become an offence to smoke in these areas. Enforcement of this legislation will be via local authorities who will now have the powers to issue fixed-penalty notices.

The Public Health (Wales) Act 2017 replaces current restrictions on smoking in enclosed and substantially enclosed public and workplaces and gives Welsh Ministers a regulation-making power to extend the restrictions on smoking to additional premises or vehicles.

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