To mark national No Smoking Day (Wednesday 8th March), primary schools across Cardiff and the Vale have launched an initiative to make their school gates smokefree zones.

Jenner Park Primary School in Barry officially launched the initiative today (Wednesday 8th March), with all primary schools across the two counties to follow suit. Cardiff and the Vale are the 10th and 11th local authorities to join ASH Wales’ campaign to make all primary school gates in Wales smokefree areas.

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To support the launch, pupils from the school created artwork and videos about why smokefree school gates are so important to them. Special plaques were also unveiled around the gates to inform parents about the voluntary ban.

Research shows young people are highly influenced by others smoking around them - those with a parent who smokes are 70% more likely to take up the habit.

Smokefree areas also protect from second-hand smoke whilst ‘denormalising’ the deadly habit. Almost half of long-term smokers begin smoking before leaving high school and among children who try smoking around a third become regular smokers within 3 years.

No Smoking Day, now in its 34th year, encourages smokers from across the country to quit the habit for the day. This year’s theme - “Ready, Steady, Stop” - aims to inspire would-be quitters to prepare themselves in readiness for No Smoking Day being the first day of their smokefree journey.

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Healthy Schools Co-ordinator for Jenner Park Primary, Nicola Stanley, said, “Children at primary school age are still developing and are therefore highly suggestible. For this reason, we are invested in educating them around factors that can affect their health and well-being.

“The children understand that smoking is addictive, expensive and could have an effect on their health in later life and we want them to retain this message as they approach their teenage years.”

Chief Executive of ASH Wales, Suzanne Cass, said: “Smoking tobacco - a deadly and addictive drug - in areas which are created specifically for our young people sends them a completely incorrect message that this is a harmless, every day activity. We know that children and young people copy what goes on around them and this includes seeing adults smoking. It is essential we set positive examples wherever we can – we do not want our next generation to be the tobacco industry’s next customers.

“Young people have a right to get an education, play and meet their friends in a clean, smokefree environment. Banning smoking at playgrounds and now school gates is a huge step in the right direction.”