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Children send anti-smoking message to grown-ups

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Play areas across Devon will soon be displaying signs asking people not to ‘smoke where we play’ after three school children won a competition to design a new sign.

We’ve been working with our neighbour Torbay Council, both of us are members of the Smokefree Devon Alliance, and we set up a competition with a number of primary schools to find the best designs.

Our announcement of the signs coincides with the start of Stoptober next week, when smokers are encouraged to think about quitting – the signs are intended to reduce a child’s exposure to smoking to help prevent them from taking up the habit in the first place.

More than 30 children entered from schools in both areas, as well as art and craft clubs and community groups.

Katherine, seven, a pupil at Chudleigh Primary School, William, nine, and Josie, 11, attendees of the Studio 1 Arts and Crafts club were named the winners and they will receive a Reach Outdoors voucher for two one-hour hires of a paddleboard or kayak from the Goodrington Beach Centre.

Their signs will be displayed in 23 play parks throughout Torbay while in Devon 112 signs, have been distributed to the county’s eight district councils, with Teignbridge District council opting to purchase additional signs.

Steve Brown, Chair of the Smokefree Devon Alliance and Devon’s Director of Public Health, said:

“Smoke free zones have already been successfully introduced by several local authorities across the country and evidence shows that adult smoking affects children. We know that children whose caregivers smoke are four times as likely to take up smoking themselves. By reducing a child’s exposure to smoking it is less likely they will start the habit, so these signs have enormous benefits for them, both now and in later life.”

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon
Steve Brown, Chair of the Smokefree Devon Alliance and Devon’s Director of Public Health

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Communities and Equality, said:

“We’ve all seen it, adults smoking in or near play parks. Sometimes it’s young adults and sometimes it’s the parents themselves, but regardless, it’s unacceptable and these signs convey a simple message; Please don’t smoke where we play.

“Adults’ smoking in play parks harms children – in the short-term second-hand smoke is damaging and in the long-term exposure to smoking makes it more likely that children will become smokers themselves.”

Councillor Hayley Tranter, Torbay Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult and Community Services, Public Health and Inequalities, said:

“Play parks should be safe spaces for children and young people and what could be safer than knowing you’re not breathing in harmful second-hand smoke?

“This is about children directly asking adults not to smoke where they play, and we hope these signs make grown-ups think before they reach for their cigarettes.”

The signs were produced and installed by SWISCo, the organisation which maintains Torbay’s parks.

The Smokefree Devon Alliance is a partnership of local authorities and the NHS in Devon created to combat smoking in the county.