SIGNS banning smoking from Blackpool’s parks will cost the NHS approximately £85,000, it has been claimed.
But health chiefs say the bill for signs to go up across the resort is dwarfed by the £50m annual cost to the town of tobacco addiction.
Blackpool Council’s executive is being recommended to agree to 34 signs going up in 13 parks and open spaces, when it meets tomorrow.
This will be in addition to 61 signs already installed in playgrounds.
Although not legally enforceable, it is hoped the adoption of signage will give members of the public more confidence to challenge anyone who defies the policy.
Coun Tony Williams, leader of the opposition Tory group on Blackpool Council, said: “I have been told by the council’s chief executive the first signs cost £55,953.
“There are a further 34 signs in the current planning application process which I calculate is at an additional £30,000, making a total of £85,000.”
He added: “Surely the obscene amount of money these signs have cost could have been better spent educating children of the dangers while still providing a lesser amount of more friendly smaller sized signs.
“I am not sure how many life saving drugs £85,000 will buy but the money would have been better spent supporting patients rather than buying huge ugly signs.”
But Blackpool’s head of tobacco control Jane Roberts said larger signs were required to get the message across.
She added: “It might look like we are spending a lot of money on these signs, but it is only one strand in a strategy and it is very cost-effective in helping people to stop smoking.
“Evidence shows the best way of preventing children from smoking is to ensure they do not see their parents smoking.
“So we have to educate the parents, and this is what these signs will do, as well as reducing their opportunity to smoke.”
Figures from ASH (action on smoking and health) show the cost to society of smoking on Blackpool adds up to £50.2m annually, including a £9.8m burden on the NHS and a £9.1m cost of lost productivity from smoking-related illness.