Three out of four children are aware of cigarettes before they reach the age of five, irrespective of whether or not the parents smoke. However, if young people see smoking as a normal part of everyday life, they are more likely to become smokers themselves.
Health Equalities Group can support councils and other bodies in developing, implementing and evaluating smokefree codes in parks and other settings.
Across Cheshire and Merseyside, the Health Equalities Group enabled eight councils to implement a voluntary Play Smokefree code of practice within park playground areas between October 2011 and February 2013. The purpose of the Play Smokefree code is to:
- Reduce child exposure to smoking and help to decrease the number of young people starting to smoke
- Decrease cigarette litter such as cigarette butts, empty packets and wrappers to make play areas more pleasant and to protect wildlife
- Reduce the risk of children putting toxic cigarette butts into their mouths
In order to assess the efficacy of the Play Smokefree programme, and in particular levels of public compliance and satisfaction with the voluntary smokefree code, the Health Equalities Group conducted an evaluation.
Health Equalities Group were awarded the Merseyside Social Enterprise Network Award in the ‘Healthy Environment’ category for the Play Smokefree intervention.
The evaluation of the intervention showed that there is overwhelming support from the public including smokers for the Play Smokefree across Cheshire and Merseyside. However, awareness of the code is limited to just more than one third of adults using the play areas. Despite this the impact of the code on smoking behaviour in the play area is encouraging. Just over a quarter of respondents reported that they had seen people smoking in the play area park, and among these respondents, a significant majority reported that the frequency of seeing people smoking was occasional, rare or very rare.