Ban on smoking in playgrounds inspires additional summertime smokefree environments in Nottingham

Nottingham City Council previously introduced a voluntary ban on smoking in children’s playgrounds and the scheme proved so successful, Smokefree Nottingham introduced additional summertime smokefree environments across the city.   

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Councillor Alex Norris with local school children on The Beach 

Originally put in place in 2006, Smokefree Nottingham is a council-led service, based within Environmental Health, and they work with their public health and other colleagues to implement initiatives to make it easier for people not to smoke and create environments where smoking prevalence is reduced.

Smokefree Nottingham and the City Council’s Parks and Open Spaces teams were behind the successful initiative in 2011 to introduce smokefree playgrounds in 70 locations across the city – the first authority in the East Midlands to implement such a scheme.

The driver behind smokefree playgrounds was not only to improve and protect children’s health but to take smoking out of sight from children so that it wouldn’t be seen as regular, everyday behaviour.

Following the success of the smokefree playgrounds, Smokefree Nottingham turned their attention to implementing additional smokefree environments.

For the past seven years Nottingham City Council has installed a synthetic beach in the City’s Market Square, jam-packed with attractions, rides and live events. Predominantly aimed at children and families, ‘The Beach’ runs over the six-week summer holiday period and attracts more than 200,000 visitors each year.

In 2010 Smokefree Nottingham and the Council’s Public Health team conducted a survey to ask people if they would support a voluntary smoking ban being implemented on The Beach. More than 80% of respondents said they would welcome such an initiative.  

In 2014 an opportunity arose to introduce a voluntary smoking ban on The Beach when the Council signed the Local Government Declaration on Tobacco Control.  The Portfolio Holder for Health was keen to take a tobacco control motion to Full Council at the same time to secure the support needed to progress work on smokefree outdoor public spaces.

One of the actions in the Motion was to support the introduction of smokefree outdoor public spaces in Nottingham where residents wanted them and Smokefree Nottingham’s proposals received unanimous cross party support, giving them mandate to progress their work on making The Beach smokefree.  The action to extend smokefree outdoor public spaces where citizens support them has also been included in the Nottingham City Council Plan to 2019.’

As a result, Kate Smith, Co-ordinator for Smokefree Nottingham, worked with her local authority colleagues and the Mellors Group who run The Beach, who were fully supportive, to make their plans a reality and in 2015, The Beach was promoted as smokefree for the first time.

Again, Smokefree Nottingham undertook a citizen survey and there was a significant increase in the number of people who supported children and family events being smokefree.

The success of The Beach and the survey results paved the way for Kate and colleagues to introduce a ‘Smokefree Summer’ in Nottingham, where many children and family events open to the public are now free of smoke during the summer holiday period. 

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Smokefree posters designed by Nottingham students 

Smokefree Summer has been well supported by residents and Councillors, leading to interest from Nottinghamshire County Council, who have asked if they could also be involved. This in-turn has led to many District and Borough Councils across Nottinghamshire also participating in the scheme.

Councillor Alex Norris, Portfolio Holder for Adults and Health said: “Our vision is to inspire an entire generation to become smokefree. We don’t only want to help reduce the number of children taking up the habit, but also to encourage people not to smoke in front of youngsters. This is really important because it starts to break that cycle of smoking being passed down through generations.

“Tobacco has a huge impact on Nottingham. It’s a major cause of illness and explains much of the differences in health between the richest and poorest people in our city.

“Our Smokefree Summer was inspired by citizens telling us that they wanted more family events where smokers were asked not to light up. Since then a number of other local authorities have followed our lead and started making their family events smokefree. We believe that we’re one of the first councils in the country to attempt something like this and hope we can build on its success in the future.”  

Kate Smith said: “To other councils looking to implement their own smokefree schemes, I would recommend having a robust plan in place with a long-term vision and clear identifiable actions. You also need to engage with citizens and the political decision makers and gain their support. On that note you might need to wait for the right opportunity and for me that was definitely the council signing up to the Local Government Declaration on Tobacco Control.”

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