WARREN HAYDEN: Ban smoking at school gates... and in parks

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Last year I wrote a piece about the smoking ban which produced a very big response from readers of The News.

Many readers agreed with me. Many disagreed too.

I asked the question, is it time the smoking ban went further?

This came after visits to the local park with my two daughters often included us dodging the harmful smoke being blown out of the mouths of fellow parents while children were trying to enjoy the swings and slides.

I also witnessed parents smoking outside the gates at my daughter’s school as the children were entering to start their day.

I was disgusted at how anyone could feel it was appropriate to blow their cancer-causing smoke into the vicinity of young children causing them to smoke passively.

I explained in my column that as much as I wish it wasn’t, I understood it was a person’s right to smoke in an outside public area, if they wished.

But I also said it was time to ban smoking in outdoor public places where there was a high concentration of children.

I am pleased with the progress we have already made in this country and I hope we follow the example of Australia which has gone even further. It was the first country in the world to introduce mandatory plain packaging for tobacco products. The UK will follow suit in May.

Smoking bans started inside including workplaces, bars and restaurants and then moved outside. Now, smoking is banned within 10 metres of a playground, within four metres of the entrance to a public building, plus at rail platforms, taxi ranks and bus stops.

According to Magazine on the BBC News website, these rules are in New South Wales and are mirrored in many other states. Many beaches also prohibit smoking and all states, just like England and Wales, ban smoking in vehicles if children are present.

Smoking is not singularly linked to the participant. The negative effects of smoking in public carry over into other people’s lives with a tangible, measurable, and sometimes permanent impact.

Although the exact degree of harm is debatable, after the smoking ban came into force in England in 2007 there were about 11,000 fewer hospital admissions for respiratory tract infections in children a year.

I support a person’s right to smoke in a private place where the impact on other people will be negligible.But I really hope that for all children, including mine and for future generations, we continue to look at this issue and that people who do smoke in public places respect other people’s health.