Smoking Ban in Play Areas Is Child's Play but Wider Ban Is Step Too Far; Western Mail

Article excerpt

THE smoking ban was perhaps the most significant piece of public health legislation to be introduced in the UK in living memory. It has not only reduced people's exposure to potentially harmful tobacco smoke in enclosed public spaces but it is helping to stigmatise smoking, marking a departure from previous decades when it was the acceptable - even the expected - thing to do.

It also has the potential to reduce the huge health consequences associated with smoking - in non-smokers and, eventually, in smokers themselves.

But there are limits to what the smoking ban can do, particularly in relation to protecting children from second-hand smoke.

The ban cannot prevent adults smoking in front of their children at home or outdoors. It cannot prevent children of smoking parents from growing up thinking that smoking is an inevitable part of adulthood. It is against this backdrop that anti-smoking charity ASH Wales has launched its latest campaign to make children's outdoor play areas smoke-free environments.

While it will be anathema to the majority to even consider smoking at the gates of the local swing park as children play happily on the slide or roundabout, a quick glance at any play area will easily seek out the tell-tale haze of smoke above the gathered adults.

There may be an argument that exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke - and its potential health consequences - is negligible in the open air, but such behaviour in front of impressionable children only serves to normalise smoking. …