No ‘butts’ about it, no lighting up in our playgrounds

CHILDREN across Woking are appealing to residents not to light up in their parks.

Posters with ‘Please don’t smoke around our play areas’ are being put up in council-run playgrounds in a new scheme to reduce youngsters’ exposure to secondhand smoke.

The eye-catching signage has been designed by local primary pupils to discourage visitors from lighting up.

Each year around 207,000 children in the UK start smoking and research shows that many of them take up the habit because they copy adult behaviour.

The smoking ban is not a change in legislation, rather a voluntary code aiming to encourage the community to make the decision to protect kids’ health.

Councillor Beryl Hunwicks, Woking Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Health & Wellbeing, said: “We know that children are more likely to start smoking if they see adults doing the same in family-friendly environments. Play areas should be places where children can enjoy healthy physical activity.

“Attitudes to smoking have changed and these new signs will help raise awareness that it’s socially unacceptable to smoke in play areas.

“They will also give residents the confidence to raise the issue with those who ignore the ban.

“Protecting our children’s health is of paramount importance. We hope that people will now act responsibly and avoid smoking in play areas.”

In autumn 2015, a competition was launched for local primary school children to design eye-catching smoke-free signage, with the winning artists having their creations turned into reality.

In Woking, two winners will see their designs appear across the borough. One of the winning artists, Aryana Ali, aged eight, said: “I am so happy that my poster was picked for the competition!

“I wanted to make it clear that children should be able to play in the park and not feel disturbed by seeing someone smoke. It’s not healthy and it can be scary for us to see that.

“All children should have the opportunity to play safely. That’s why my poster has a playground with children playing and a big no smoking sign.”

The initiative is a partnership between Surrey County and Woking Borough Councils.

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