Park smoke ban widened

One of the no smoking signs in Highfield Park.

One of the no smoking signs in Highfield Park.

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A ban on smoking in parks could be extended to green spaces across Fylde and Wyre as part of a new Lancashire-wide drive to prevent children from lighting up.

Signs were put up at the entrances to Blackpool parks and playgrounds in 2012, and now it looks like Lancashire County Council is set to follow suit.

A report to councillors is asking for £200,000 to be set aside over the next two years to fund the scheme in seven districts including Fylde and Wyre.

The report says: “This would involve implementing a voluntary smoke free code of practice within playground areas in both district council and county council parks.”

It adds the move would “reduce child exposure to smoking and de-normalise tobacco use within the community.

“In the long term this will assist in decreasing uptake of smoking within the youth population. It will also reduce levels of unsightly cigarette litter such as cigarette butts, matches, empty packets and wrappers in play areas.”

According to the latest figures, 16 per cent of 14 to 17-year-olds in Lancashire smoke, compared to 11 per cent of 15-year-olds nationally, according to research from the Information Centre for Health and Social Care.

A ban on smoking in parks is not enforceable by law but supporters say it raises awareness about the dangers of tobacco.

However the installation of no smoking signs prompted anger from some people in Blackpool who branded them unsightly and a waste of money.

Chris Palk-Smith stood down as vice-chairman of the Friends of East Pines Park in Anchorsholme in protest at the lack of consultation over the proposals.

A spokesman for Fylde Council said they had yet to take a stance on the issue.

He said: “We haven’t received a request yet from Lancashire County Council and when we do, it will require political consideration looking at things like cost and consultation implications.”

Kath Powell, community development manager for Park View 4U in Lytham, said most people were responsible about smoking anyway.

She said: “I am not sure it is worthwhile to put signs up if the ban is not enforceable.

“I think parents are sensible enough not to smoke in front of children anyway.”