In August 2016 Healthy Norwich, support by Norwich City Council and Broadland District Council launched an initiative to make our children’s play areas smoke free.
Alarmingly, smoking remains the biggest cause of preventable deaths in Norfolk and is known to increase health inequalities. Smoking often starts as a childhood addiction. Around 66% of smokers started before they were 18. It is a common misconception by young people that they can experiment with cigarettes without getting addicted but they often show signs of addiction after 4 weeks of smoking. In a year it is estimated that 2,861 children will start smoking in Norfolk, this means that each day 8 children will begin smoking and 56 children every week. This is equal to having two classrooms full of children becoming smokers every week. Young people are most at risk of becoming smokers themselves if they grow up in communities where smoking is the norm.
As a result of this project, 85 Norwich play parks became voluntary smoke-free zones in August 2016, each with signs to remind parents to refrain from smoking. Broadland District Council is also be using the same signage, and has been rolling out the smoke free signage across its children’s play zones. Adopting smoke-free play parks and play zones in larger green spaces is not intended to prevent people from smoking, but asking individuals to smoke more responsibly away from where children may be affected and exposed to harmful tobacco smoke.
Smoke-free play parks and play zones in larger green spaces and parks is just one part of a whole range of local tobacco control measures including provision of stop smoking support, enforcement of smoke-free legislation, tobacco regulation designed to protect children from tobacco-related harm.
Future Plans – Smoke-Free Youth Sports.
Taking a lead from the smoke-free play parks, Healthy Norwich is working with colleagues across Norfolk and within the sports sector to introduce smoke-free sport for our youth.
Smoke Free Sport would bring about several benefits including;
- Decreasing the opportunity for children to see adults smoking around them
- Creating an environment in which smoking is not seen as the norm thus potentially motivating smokers to cut down or to quit
- Protecting the environment and saving money by reducing tobacco-related litter
- Offering further protection from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke
- Provide opportunity for public acceptance of voluntary smoke-free locations