Oxford City Council has just rolled out its 'voluntary ban' on smoking in children's play areas across all of its 87 such places. This follows a three month trial in three parks. The coverage reports that stickers have been placed at the sites advising parents not to smoke - for the sake of the children, of course, because ASH have said that second-hand smoke is bad. Even on a windy September morning. And even when the playground is a few yards from a busy road filled will fume-spewing diesel motor vehicles.
This is a voluntary ban as the resident fussbucket (or, if you prefer, Council Board Member for Leisure, Parks and Sport) puts it:
"It's something we need to keep an eye on.A bit of a warning there, I suspect, as the councillor invokes the "do as you're told citizens or we'll have to take sterner action" approach that we love so much. Right now the signs have all the enforcement power of tutting and a bit of side-eye and, I guess, the Council wants to enlist the self-appointed school gate enforcement team.
"I don't think a PSPO is necessary at the moment; it's just asking people to respect other users and respect the children playing."
Most parents will probably abide by the advice, mostly for the sake of a quiet life, but I think the response from one hints at a growing appreciation of the smoking issue:
Alex Thomas, a father-of-three from Botley, said: "I suspect it's a good idea in terms of encouraging children not to see smokers as a norm."Well said Alex. Shame that public health bosses seem unable to summon anything like this degree of respect for other humans.
But the 34-year-old said he 'wouldn't mind' if he saw people smoking in play areas, adding: "I think it's entirely their right.
"There are enough places smokers aren't allowed to smoke and if a parent needs a cigarette to get through an hour in the playground on a cold November day, fair enough."