I’ve been meaning to write this article for quite a while now but I tried to talk to school and other parents first to see what can be done. And the reason for that was an unpleasant encounter with a smoker I had that left me very angry and willing to take some action to ban cigarettes in our local playground. Smoking at any playgrounds in my opinion is just not a right thing to do… It should be banned long time ago however it hasn’t been yet in all the councils. It is common knowledge that cigarettes cause many diseases and smoking around children can lead to serious health problems in our little ones, for instance asthma. If you want to smoke / poison yourself – it is your choice but please, don’t make children smoke with you! They deserve clean, safe place to play.
Since I remember gangs of smoking parents were gathering in front of the school gates blocking the passage to this extend that it was hard to enter the school in the morning without risking for someone to poke your little one with cigarette in the eye, not even talking about all those cigarette fumes and setting bad example to our children… I don’t know how it is in your area but I live in Islington, North London and here pregnant mothers pushing a pram with one hand and with a cigarette in another is not an uncommon sight. Couple of weeks ago school has finally banned smoking if front of the gates but it did not end the problem. Now all that smoking crowd has moved to the school park, that is connected with he school through the gate and children have access to it during the break. The park is very small so it is impossible to seat there with kids without being affected with the cigarette smoke… not from one or two people but more like 10+ people at the same time (sometimes in the mornings and especially around 3.30 – after school, when children want to go there and play). I don’t mean big open areas but small playgrounds where you can’t avoid the cigarette smoke, unless you will leave… But wait a minute, this is children’s playground, so why children have to leave while smokers have right to stay! The other issue is that they are leaving cigarette butts everywhere and toddlers pick them up. If brining a dog to the playground is worth £80 fine, why can’t be the same with cigarettes? There is so many strange Health & Safety regulations… why none of them bans cigarettes at the playgrounds? Why there is a smoking ban for the pubs but not for the playgrounds? Why are we protecting adults drinking in the bars more than innocent children?
About a week ago after school run and leaving bigger one at school together with the little one we went to this park… there was no one there yet, we sat down on a bench in a nice, sunny spot enjoying “fresh” air while she was eating her breakfast (we had packed)… 4-5 smokers (only one with a child) came to the park and they did seat down just next to us, one of them even sat on the same bench next my 2 years old daughter, almost on the top of her lunchbox, with a cigarette in her hand. On my protest she said “sorry” but she did not move or intend to move away. She just turned her back and start talking to the other girls from in their own language. I noticed she has school badge (as I discovered later she works in the kitchen)… I would imagine someone who works with kids to be more considerate but I expect too much probably. I spoked to the school but apparently there is not much they can do about the playground. That’s a pity because school uses this playground during each lunch break (they have a key to the gate between the school and the park). I’m a bit confused, there should be something they could do if they wanted, right?