MOVES to stop people smoking in Blackpool’s parks are sending the wrong message out, it was claimed today.
Health chiefs are currently installing signs in all the resort’s parks designating them as smokefree zones.
It is hoped the move will protect children from the effects of smoking and discourage them from taking up the habit themselves.
But the initiative has been slammed as a step to far .
Blackpool publican Hamish Howitt, who unsuccessfully fought through the courts to allow smoking in his Crazy Scots bar in the town, said: “Finding a quiet bench in a park and having a smoke is one of the few pleasures for many people.
“Stopping them from doing that is officialdom gone mad. If they want to protect children, why do they allow children to be exposed to traffic fumes outside schools?
“And what kind of a message is it sending out? It is saying smokers are not welcome in Blackpool and yet this group are big spenders and at a time when the economy is on its knees we need them.”
Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservatives on Blackpool Council, described the move as “overkill”.
He added: “Having worked in smokey clubs for most of my musical career I understand the problems with passive smoking and the harm it can cause and I endorse a smoke free play zone in parks but this is just overkill.
“Why not spend the money talking to kids in schools about the dangers, or on more play and sports equipment instead of signs and more negative instructions for visitors to our town. Parents smoke too and I can just imagine smoking groups standing outside the park gates just like our pubs.
“I understand we have to protect our children but this is ridiculous. Kids walk on the Promenade and play on the beach.
“Are we to see no smoking signs along our coastline next week?”
But residents in parks across Blackpool today said people should not smoke near playing children.
Scott Russell, 24, of Laycock Gate, Layton, added: “If the park is full of children they shouldn’t be allowed to smoke.
“But people should know better and if they are smoking outside it should be kept away from kids.”
John Street, 66, of Manor Road, Blackpool, said: “It’s a bit over the top. If there was someone else sitting down here I wouldn’t light up. But this is an infringement of our civil liberties.”
Heather Mellor, 34, of Garstang Road, Poulton, said: “There should be fines if you’re seen dropping cigarette ends but I don’t think they should stop you smoking in the open air.”
“Unfortunately there are always a group of smokers who are irresponsible though.”
Andy Farrell, 45, of Newcastle Avenue, Stanley Park, said: “There’s worse things happening in our parks than people wandering around smoking. You’ve got to be conscious of what you do.”
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