Galway people fond of a drag as they push their kids on the swings are to be discouraged from smoking in playgrounds in the county from September.
Signs declaring Galway City playgrounds to be smoke free zones are to be put in place city-wide next month.
The project, called ‘Play Smoke-Free’ is a joint initiative between the Galway Healthy Cities project, the HSE and the Parks and Recreation department of Galway City Council.
Galway Healthy Cities had been liaising with the National Office of Tobacco Control to assist in the development of the signs, with the aim of creating a standardised national sign that would be in place in playgrounds nationwide to increase recognition of the ‘Play Smoke Free’ initiative.
However, with over 100 playgrounds across the country already having erected signs in counties Donegal, Dublin, Carlow, Meath and Clare, Galway Healthy Cities says it intends to erect its own signs by September if a standardised national sign has not been developed in time.
Coordinator of Galway Healthy Cities Project, Fiona Donovan, said the plans have been in motion to make Galway’s playgrounds smoke-free since March.
“We have the list of all the playgrounds and we’re just looking at putting the signs up. It’s a partnership approach. The city council are very much behind it. It’ll be very much to deter smoking and to raise awareness. We’re calling it ‘Play Smoke-Free’,” said Ms Donovan.
The Play Smoke-Free initiative will not have any legal standing like the ban on smoking in the workplace, but it is hoped that the signs will raise awareness among parents, other adults and children and discourage smoking in children’s play areas.
“There’s no legislation, but it’s a voluntary code and I think parents would welcome that,” said Ms Donovan, who said that surveys that had been conducted on the subject showed that most people supported the initiative.
“I think people see it as common sense,” she added.
Councillor Pádraig Conneely, who is the Chair of HSE West’s Regional Health Forum, has welcomed the move, but warned that any move to implement no-smoking zones in playgrounds in Galway would be difficult to enforce.
“It’s all about sending out the message to young kids to encourage them not to smoke. It’s an area where children congregate and children play and you have to lead by example,” said Cllr Conneely.
“Obviously, it would be hard to enforce, but you’d be appealing to the adults in the park to get them on side and to encourage them not to smoke in a public area where there are kids playing, because it’s all about the message, it’s all about long term,” he said.