Smoking: 20 of Wales' 22 councils have no playground ban

Man smoking
Image caption A quarter of Welsh adults smoke - but the Welsh government wants to cut it to 16% by 2020

Twenty of Wales' 22 councils have not implemented a ban on smoking in playgrounds, according to a survey.

Anti-smoking charity Ash says only Powys and Caerphilly have the ban. The survey results were released on the fifth anniversary of a law against lighting up in enclosed places.

The Welsh government last year said it would work with local authorities on introducing smoke-free play areas.

But pro-smoking group Forest said a ban on outdoor smoking was "excessive".

Caerphilly council has prohibited smoking in nearly 100 play areas after a campaign by local young people. No-smoking signs will be designed by schoolchildren in the county borough.

Ash chief executive Elen de Lacy said: "All councils in Wales already have the power to ban and enforce this rule and we want to see them all following Caerphilly's lead.

"We know that children are at particular risk from second-hand smoke and that they are more likely to start smoking themselves if they see adults doing it in a family-friendly environment.

"It is vital that we de-normalise smoking to reduce the rates of young people taking it up and also reduce their exposure to smoke in areas that they gather."

However Simon Clark from the smoking lobby group Forest said it was strongly opposed to any ban on smoking outdoors.

"Any ban on smoking outdoors is excessive," he said.

"It would be excessive and out of proportion.

"When it comes to play areas we hope smokers will show some common sense and actually most parents don't light up in play areas.

"We don't see why there should be any restrictions on smoking in outside areas at all," he added.

Publicity campaign

Despite work by the Welsh government to encourage people to give up smoking, figures show that the numbers of smokers in Wales has barely changed since the middle of the last decade.

Among the work it has done, the Welsh government said it would work with local authorities on introducing smoke-free play areas.

Ministers have also proposed a ban on smoking in cars carrying children, depending on the results of a publicity campaign to dissuade smokers from lighting up behind the wheel.

Hospitals will be encouraged to stop smokers gathering outside their entrances as part of a tobacco control plan unveiled in December which aims to cut the proportion of adults who smoke to 16% by 2020.

The most recent Welsh Health Survey in 2010 found 23% of adults smoked daily or occasionally. The figure was 24% in 2007, the year that smoking in bars, restaurants and other enclosed public places was outlawed.

Since then, there has been a big drop in people who say they have been exposed to second-hand smoke.

The number of non-smoking adults exposed to other people's smoke has halved from 66% in 2005/06 to 33% in 2010.

Chief medical officer Tony Jewell said it was encouraging that 70% of smokers say they would like to give up.

An independent review into smoking cessation services will be commissioned to identify improvements, he said.

"Action to tackle smoking has not stopped at the ban. Measures recently implemented include Fresh Start campaign to encourage people not to smoke in cars carrying children and we have recently banned the sale of tobacco from vending machines," Dr Jewell added.

Chris Mulholland, head of the British Lung Foundation in Wales, said: "Five years on from the ban on smoking in enclosed public places people in Wales have begun to realise the benefits.

"We now need to move on to protect future generations, whether it's in the car, playground or elsewhere."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites