Smoking in parks and playgrounds in Dundee could be “banned” by spring if a proposal is passed by councillors next week.
Play areas in all of Dundee’s public parks could be designated smoke free zones if the voluntary code is approved at a meeting of the policy and resources committee next week.
Due to the proposal’s voluntary nature, the council would not be able to enforce a “ban”, insisting it is more of a friendly “request” for adults not to smoke in playgrounds.
If the scheme is deemed successful, the council said it could turn the V&A footprint and events like the Flower and Food Festival, Bonfire night and music concerts at Slessor Gardens into smoke-free zones.
The council hopes removing smoking from playgrounds would reduce the “normality” of cigarettes, noting three out of four children are aware of what cigarettes are before the age of five, even if they have grown up in a household where neither parent smokes.
As well as ensuring children do not unnecessarily suffer from the harmful affects of second hand smoke, the council believes the move will lead to a reduction in the number of cigarette butts which are dropped in children’s areas.
If the proposals are given the go-ahead, the council will run a competition involving children in primary 5 to design posters which will be put in place in playgrounds across the city.
SNP administration leader Councillor John Alexander said the public smoking ban, which was enforced in 2006, had changed the country’s attitude to smoking and its acceptability.
He said: “This is a simple but effective way to keep smoke away from children as they play in our excellent parks.
“As a council, we are committed to making Dundee a better place for everyone and this includes the health and wellbeing of all our citizens.
“There has been a massive change in people’s perceptions about where it is appropriate to smoke in the last 12 years since the smoking ban was introduced in Scotland.
“We hope that people will understand why we are doing this and will respect these playgrounds as much as they would places covered by no smoking legislation.”
However, Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, claimed there is no health reason for the proposed ban.
He said: “Smoking in the open air poses no risk to anyone else’s health, including children, so there is no reason to ban it in playgrounds or any other outdoor space.
“We would urge smokers to be considerate to those in their immediate vicinity but the overwhelming majority don’t need to be told how to behave around children. Like most people they use their common sense.
“The last thing we need are yet more regulations designed to tell ordinary people how to behave in public.”
Smoking is currently banned from enclosed public places, workplaces and cars.
It is estimated smoking kills around 10,000 people (one fifth of all deaths), is linked to 128,000 hospital admissions and costs NHS Scotland more than £300 million annually.
More people smoke in Tayside than in any other health board in the country, with the highest concentration of smokers living in Dundee.
Angus Council recently made a new £90,000 park in Brechin the first in the local authority to become a smoke free zone, with the hopes it could be implemented further in the near future.