Published: November 6, 2012
Smoking set to be banned at play area in Highbridge's Apex Park

Highbridge's Apex Park looks set to become one of the first no smoking children's play areas in the south west region.

The park has been chosen to receive thousands of pounds of NHS funding towards the launch of the scheme.

Laura Rideout from Smoke Free South West, a government organisation, told town councillors at a meeting last night (Monday): "We want to introduce voluntary smoking bans in parks across the region and have chosen Apex Park as our first pilot."

"Children are influenced by what they see around them and they can be harmed by cigarette smoke. A ban would promote well-being, decrease litter from discarded butts and support Apex's Green Flag award scheme."

She stressed that the ban would only cover the play area and not the whole of the park.

Stuart Brock from NHS Somerset, who also spoke at Monday's meeting, said: "We have budget available for Highbridge and would love this to be our first pilot."

The funding will allow dedicated signs to be installed on the play area fences, on waste bins, benches and equipment.

The plans were given backing by Burnham and Highbridge town councillors. Cllr Peter Burridge-Clayton said: "I welcome these proposals with open arms, having seen the effects of smoking on people's health. It's great that our area has been chosen for a pilot and I can't support this enough."

But Alan Miller added: "I'm concerned that if the signs mention cigarettes and smoking that children might actually start talking about smoking and asking about cigarettes."

And Cllr Helen Groves added that she likes the idea of the wording on the signs being written by children. "I am a smoker myself but don't use cigarettes in play parks or around children. Smokers generally get resistant if they feel they are being punished in some way - the wording on the signs will be important."


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