Smoking banned in Taunton's outdoor play areas

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Smoking is to be banned at children's outdoor play areas in a Somerset town.

Taunton Deane Borough Council has signed up to an anti-smoking charter called the Local Government Declaration on Tobacco Control.

The council said the pilot scheme in Taunton could be extended, if successful, to all public areas it is responsible for.

The action has been condemned as the "bluntest form of paternalism".

The declaration commits councils to take action to protect residents from the harm caused by smoking, to support national action on tobacco and generally to reduce smoking in the population.

Council leader John Williams said: "If we are serious about addressing the smoking-related illness problem, then we have to take steps such as these."

But Chris Snowdon, from the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: "There are no public health benefits to banning smoking outdoors because there's no risk from passive smoking whatsoever outdoors and there never will be.

"They can dress it up as they like but this is the bluntest form of paternalism."

The council said signs would go up in play areas very soon and that they would enforce the ban vigorously.

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