Sun, sand, sea and ... cigarettes?
Smoking on some of the UK’s beaches could soon be a pastime of the past.
Councillors in Brighton and Hove are today set to debate a controversial proposal for a public consultation on whether to extend the current smoking ban, in pubs, cafes and shopping centres, to outdoor public areas too.
Like Blackpool, Brighton Council already has a voluntary ban on smoking in children’s play areas, but now the city’s parks and beaches could be smoke-free too.
So, how would a similar proposal go down in another of the country’s busiest seaside resorts?
The Gazette revealed earlier this year the £7m toll on public finances that smoking has, as more and more people are treated for health problems associated with smoking.
And in March the resort’s head of health mooted the possibility of all of Blackpool becoming smoke free.
Director of Public Health, Dr Arif Rajpura, said people should be banned from lighting up even when walking down the pavement, during in an official council meeting.
But this was met with disdain by many.
Margaret Snowdon, a smoker for 45 of her 60 years, said: “A smoking ban on beaches would be ridiculous.
“It takes away a simple pleasure from people.
“They should leave people alone and let them make up their own mind.”
The tourist, visiting Blackpool from County Durham, said such a ban in Blackpool would even put her off visiting the resort again.
And Janice Atherton agreed. The 50-year-old, visiting from Rotherham, said: “If you couldn’t smoke in any open space then where could you smoke?
“It would put people off visiting a place, not being able to smoke there.”
Blackpool Council has said it would not be “realistic” to enforce a further ban on beaches.
Coun Eddie Collett, cabinet member for reducing health inequalities, said: “In Blackpool, we’re doing our best to work with the public and help to de-normalise smoking.
“I’m all for this and the work our team is doing has helped to bring down smoking rates significantly over the last few years.
“Having said that, when it comes to trying to enforce a smoking ban on Blackpool beach then it’s probably the case that, given its scale and our declining resources, is simply not realistic.”
But grandmother Lena Porter, 59, enjoying a day at the seaside with grandson Kazon, said she would welcome such a ban.
She said: “I’m a non-smoker and I’ve never agreed with it.
“It would keep the beaches cleaner and tidier.”
And even some smokers agree with the idea in principal.
Dad Anthony Dolen, 44, also from Manchester, said: “I only smoke out in the open anyway, not in the house or when my children are close by.
“So I’d go with it, even though I’m a smoker, because I think they did the right thing banning it in pubs.”
Pat Pearson, 68, a smoker for 50 years, said: “Although I’m a smoker I’d support it.
“To me, Blackpool is synonymous with children, so to smoke near them is setting a bad example.
“It would reduce litter too so I think people would be supportive of it.”
Glaswegian Alan Watson, 45, recently switched to smoking an e-cigarette, after 23 years as a smoker, due to its toll on his health.
He said: “Smoking is a personal choice but I appreciate that non-smokers don’t like it near them.
“If you’re walking on the beach it should be allowed but not if you’re sitting close to children.”
More than a quarter of adults living in Blackpool smoke, compared to the national rate of about a fifth of the population, while 28 per cent of women smoke during pregnancy.
Resident Vera Tomoryva, 22, said: “I like to smoke on the beach so I wouldn’t like a ban.
“It’s a personal choice. If I’m smoking outside it should be OK, it would be weird for someone to stop me.”