We're happy to announce that as of March 2016, all local authorities in Wales have implemented voluntary bans in their local playgrounds.
Since 2012, we've campaigned for all local authorities in Wales to introduce smokefree policies in their children’s playgrounds to protect young people from the harm of second-hand smoke. This campaign is part of our wider 'Smokefree Spaces' initiative, which also includes campaigning for smokefree beaches and other spaces where young people play and exercise.
Why smokefree playgrounds?
In 2017, a YouGov survey commissioned by ASH Wales showed that 83% of adults surveyed believe smoking should be banned in outdoor children’s play areas.
Smoking in family-friendly areas sends children a message that tobacco is a common part of life rather than a deadly addictive drug. Alongside this, cigarette butts can take up to 12 years to biodegrade, posing a danger to animals and young children who may ingest them in the meantime. And that’s not even counting the boxes, cellophane, lighters, matches, matchboxes, paper or pouches that also blight our parks and playgrounds and cost money to clean up. We believe that children and young people have a right to play, meet their friends and take part in sports in a clean, smokefree environment.
The campaign has since empowered children all across Wales, from youth councils to schools, to reclaim their spaces. Young people have developed their own campaigns and spread the message in their local communities. Most playground signs were designed by local school children through competitions.
In July 2017, the Public Health Wales Act was passed by the Welsh Government. Included in this Act is the measure to ban smoking in public playgrounds in Wales, thereby making it against the law to smoke in any area designed or adapted for the use, by children, of one or more items of playground equipment. For playgrounds within clearly marked boundaries smoking is banned within the whole of the area within those boundaries. For playgrounds not bordered by a physical boundary smoking is not permitted within 5 metres of any item of playground equipment. There is currently a consultation period taking place with regards to the implementation of the measures contained in the Act, so the full implementation of these measures is likely to be in 2019 or 2020.
Anglesey council launched a visionary smokefree initiative in 2013 by banning smoking in playgrounds as well as in leisure centre grounds and outside primary and secondary schools.
These areas where young people congregate will now be safer environments as a result of this decision, free from second-hand smoke and cigarette litter. Members of the public have helped to enforce the ban, which it is hoped will bring about a change of attitudes towards smoking around young people.
Caerphilly youth forum, which is made up of 16 young people from across the borough developed, project managed and implemented a campaign to protect their parks with a passion and determination to make a difference in their area.
It all began in the youth forum’s annual conference on October 2011, where the young people raised issues they felt were important in Caerphilly. The most important issues from this conference were then voted upon by young people across the borough. From this Caerphilly youth forum undertook a one year project to tackle vandalism in parks. The Protect Our Parks project aimed to raise awareness about issues affecting Caerphilly parks including smoking and litter, as well as a plan to make all playgrounds in Caerphilly County Borough smoke-free.
Cae Ddol play area in Ruthin was the county's first official smokefree play area. The initiative launched on No Smoking Day 2013 and was developed by Denbighshire County Council and its partners including Public Health Wales and Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council.
During the six month process, local primary schools, secondary schools and youth clubs were all invited to take part in a competition to design a new smokefree sign. The competition received over 340 entries. The winner of the competition was Ceri from Ysgol Pen Barras whose design is now displayed in all 85 of the local authority playgrounds.