Barnsley’s successful no-smoking zones are to be expanded with urban town centres and secondary schools the latest targets in the council’s bid to remove the habit from the sight of children.
The council has already introduced voluntary no-smoking zones in playgrounds, primary school grounds and around the Town Hall, with a scheme around play equipment in Elsecar Park now to be extended to cover the whole area.
But consultations are also being started which are expected to see part of Hoyland centre become smoke-free, testing a model which could then be repeated across similar communities.
Public health staff have been working hard to reduce the town’s smoking rate and in the last year have seen numbers begin to tumble, though around 18 per cent of adults still smoke.
The policy is to remove smoking from the sight of children, to create a generation where the habit is not regarded as normal behaviour, on the grounds it is better that people do not begin smoking rather than being persuaded to give up the addiction later.
The council has called in an outside agency called Magpie to help with a pilot scheme in Hoyland, in the expectation it will be successful in other communities later.
Instead of attempting to impose changes on people, the agency’s approach is to involve the community and find their ideas about how the policy should be developed, with spokesman Ged Savva explaining to councillors that involving the public led to innovative solutions.
“We work with communities to build what they think should be in their area. We will work out how we can inspire people not to smoke in the town centre,” he said.
The first phase is to gather evidence about the numbers of smokers on the streets, along with those who vape, and to monitor litter levels.
Work is also done in conjunction with academics from the University of Leeds.
Mr Savva said: “the message is not don’t smoke at this stage, but don’t smoke on the high street.”
Barnsley Council recently supplied all the town’s primary schools with kits to set up their own non-smoking areas around entrances, to help encourage parents not to smoke in front of young children.
Public health worker Kaye Mann told councillors who represent communities to the south of Barnsley the next stage was to try to work with secondary schools with the aim of reducing smoking among pupils.
“Secondary schools are on our ‘to do’ list,” she said.
“Kids at primary school all hate smoking but for some reason they go up to high school and it is totally different.
“We don’t know what we are going to do with secondary schools yet,” she said.
Coun Pauline Markham, said “more and more” pupils could be seen smoking as they left Netherwood Academy, between Wombwell and Darfield.
“There seem to be more young girls smoking, rather than boys. We need to target young people,” she said.