Former Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill backs council's review of no smoking areas

Jessica Ennis-Hill.
Jessica Ennis-Hill.
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Former Olympic champion Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill believes Sheffield Council is right to look into expanding the number of no smoking areas - which could include the city's 80 public parks.

The authority launched a campaign last year to ban cigarettes from 152 playgrounds and officials are now looking at ways of increasing the number of outdoor smoke-free zones.

Council leaders said that while making public spaces - such as Endcliffe Park, Hillsborough Park and Graves Park - non-smoking is not on the table at the moment, they accepted it could become a reality 'in the future'.

Speaking after taking part in the Sheffield Hallam parkrun in Endcliffe Park on Saturday, retired heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill said she supported the council for looking into ways of expanding the number of no smoking area.

The 31-year-old, of Millhouses, said: "I know a lot of people were taken aback when the smoking ban in pubs and other public places was first introduced, but I think it would be a good thing to at least look into it (banning smoking in public parks)."

The move is part of the council's Tobacco Control Strategy, which will run from 2017 to 2022, and aims to raise awareness about the health dangers of smoking.

Figures show there are around 79, 200 people who smoke in Sheffield – and tobacco kills about 16 people a week.

But the plan has sparked some criticism.

Simon Clark, director of the smokers' group Forest, said: "There is no justification for banning smoking in open air parks. Tobacco is a legal product and smokers have to be able to smoke somewhere."

Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure, said: “We are currently looking at the possibility of increasing the number of outdoor smoke-free sites and events, and in the future this might include parks, although at present this is not something we’re specifically considering.”

The council's budget for tobacco control is £1.1 million and the authority is proposing to move £220,000 from stop smoking services into prevention work, which would focus on warning school children about the dangers of smoking.

A council spokeswoman said there will be more specific details on the idea, such as what action smokers could face, in a paper due to be presented to cabinet on February 15.

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