CIEH calls for 'no smoking zones' across UK wherever children play or learn

Publication Date: 26th September 2016

Subject: Public health

  • CIEH calls for voluntary ‘no smoking zones’ to be implemented across the UK wherever children play or learn 
  • YouGov survey finds that 89% of adults in Britain would support a smoking ban in children’s play areas and 57% of all adults in Britain would support a smoking ban in public parks 
  • World Environmental Health Day (WEHD) is on Monday 26 September, an international event with tobacco control as the theme for 2016 

On World Environmental Health Day (WEHD) CIEH is calling for voluntary ‘no smoking zones’ to be implemented across the UK wherever children play or learn.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), a membership body for Environmental Health Professionals (EHPs), is calling to extend no smoking zones at the same time as revealing results from a YouGov survey.

A recent YouGov survey, commissioned by CIEH, found that 89% of adults in Britain would support a smoking ban in children’s play areas and that 57% of all adults in Britain would support a smoking ban in public parks

In the UK there are various examples of no smoking zones* and CIEH suggests that extending areas where people are asked not to smoke in places where children play or learn could help protect children’s health and reduce the perception among young people that smoking is normal behaviour.

Anne Godfrey, Chief Executive of CIEH, said: “It is abundantly clear that the vast majority of people would support restrictions on smoking in children’s play areas.

“We would like to see smoking being stubbed out wherever children play or learn. This would not only include children’s playgrounds but could see no smoking zones extended to public parks, zoos and theme parks.

“Children should be able to have fun and enjoy themselves without seeing someone smoking and thinking this is normal behaviour.”

CIEH commissioned YouGov to conduct a survey on people’s attitudes towards smoking and the protection of children. The release of the survey results coincides with World Environmental Health Day, an international event to highlight the work of EHPs in protecting and improving people’s health, safety and wellbeing.

The theme for WEHD in 2016 is tobacco control and CIEH is recognising the work of their members and the wider environmental health community in supporting smoke-free environments.

Other key findings from the YouGov survey include:

  • Out of parents who smoke, 45% smoke in front of their children when they are away from the home in pub gardens, and a similar proportion (42%) do so when in public spaces, such as parks and playgrounds.  Parents seem to be less likely to smoke in front of their children in places like home (27%) or in their car (13%).  
  • Over half (54%) of parents have moved their children away when someone they know was smoking near their children and only 13% said they have asked others to stop smoking nearby, with 15% having asked them to move away 
  • More than 5 in 10 Brits (56%) think that more should be done to raise awareness of the need for smoke-free public places  

CIEH also surveyed their network of local authority Environmental Health Managers working across the UK. The results showed that 61% thought that their authority would support the extension of no smoking policies to children’s play areas**.

Since July 2007, smoking has been prohibited in virtually all enclosed and substantially enclosed work and public places in England and throughout the United Kingdom including public transport and work vehicles.

The law has not yet been applied to open spaces and CIEH would like to see local action to create additional ‘no smoking zones’ in order to further protect children’s health and wellbeing.

Jim McManus, Director of Public Health for Hertfordshire County Council, said: “It's quite clear that public opinion, and not just among parents, has swung heavily in favour of protecting children from exposure to tobacco smoke, and from the behavioural cues children pick up from seeing adults smoking. This is a real opportunity to make it easier for children to grow up healthy. Going the whole way with this campaign gives us the real prospect of reducing significantly the number of young people who go on to smoke.

“We know that children who regularly see adults smoke are much more likely to try smoking. We also know that parents and children, when given the choice, are overwhelmingly supportive of smoke free playgrounds. Our experience locally has been that parents and children have asked for this, and local voluntary schemes have been popular. It's time to give parents what they are asking for. You might feel like this is nanny state - you'd be wrong. "

Anne Godfrey added: “When children do not see people smoking in-front of them, they will stop thinking that smoking is a normal activity and there is evidence to show that this will go a long way in helping to reduce the number of young people taking up the addictive habit in the first place.”


Notes to editors   

For more information or requests for interviews, please contact Steven: 020 7827 5922; 


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 4,300 adults, of which 1,033 were parents of children aged 18 or under. Fieldwork was undertaken between 15th - 17th August 2016.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

**Results from EH Managers Survey:  

*Case studies   

A full list of case studies can be found on CIEH website (http:/// Below are some of the examples of smokefree environments


Coventry City Council has implemented a voluntary prohibition on smoking at school gates across all of its 82 primary schools. Satisfaction surveys following the introduction of this policy found that it is popular amongst both head teachers and parents.  


Over the past few years, an innovative health partnership in North-East Wales known as Smoke Free Wrexham has established several smokefree environments covering bus playgrounds, school gates and more recently bus shelters.  


Nottingham City Council for the past seven years has run an event called “The Beach” in the City’s Market Square. The attraction is open for six weeks over the summer holiday period and is completely smoke-free.

The success of the Beach and positive public survey results paved the way for Nottingham to introduce  ‘Smokefree Summer’, where all outdoor attractions open to the public are now free of smoke during the summer holiday period. This in-turn has led to all District and Borough Councils across Nottinghamshire also participating in the scheme.  

SmokeFree Sports (Merseyside)   

SmokeFree Sports (SFS) is a multi-component sport-for-health intervention led by Liverpool John Moores University in partnership with Liverpool City Council looking to reverse high rates of children taking up smoking by highlighting the dangers to school kids through the power of sport. 

The first of its kind in the UK, SFS was an evidence-based solution to prevent smoking among nine to ten year old primary school children. The programme was delivered to more than 1,000 Year 5 children across 32 Liverpool primary schools between October 2012 and May 2013, with 11 primary schools in Knowsley following their usual routines and acting as a comparison group. 

The initiative employed a variety of innovative strategies to promote health messages to children including: training sports coaches and teachers to deliver smoke-free messages; delivering sport sessions in schools; school assemblies visited by local sports star; and asking children to sign a pledge to be smoke-free.  

The Law   

Smoke-free legislation prohibits smoking by law in virtually all enclosed and substantially enclosed workplaces and public places throughout the United Kingdom. 

“Substantially enclosed” means premises or structures with a ceiling or roof (including retractable structures such as awnings) and where there are permanent openings, other than windows or doors, which in total are less than half of the area of the walls. 

The law also applies to public transport and work vehicles which are used by more than one person at any time and more recently, since October 2015, private vehicles in England and Wales must be smoke-free when children under the age of 18 are present.

About the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH):     

CIEH is the professional voice for environmental health representing over 9,000 members working in the public, private and non-profit sectors. It ensures the highest standards of professional competence in its members, in the belief that through environmental health action people's health can be improved. 

Environmental health has an important and unique contribution to make to improving public health and reducing health inequalities. CIEH campaigns to ensure that government policy addresses the needs of communities and business in achieving and maintaining improvements to health and health protection.  

For more information visit and follow CIEH on Twitter @The_CIEH

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