Potters Bar schools back crackdown on smoking near children

(L-R) Courtenay Mosley, Ladbrooke pupils Olivia Mgbor and Bella Radley, Ellen Hayes, councillor Caro

(L-R) Courtenay Mosley, Ladbrooke pupils Olivia Mgbor and Bella Radley, Ellen Hayes, councillor Caroline Clapper and Hertsmere Council's policy manager Rebecca Young. - Credit: Archant

Potters Bar schools have backed a council-led crackdown on smoking in public areas near children.

Hertsmere Council has launched its ‘No ifs, no butts’ initiative to discourage people from lighting up in places such as parks, where second-hand fumes may be inhaled by youngsters.

The smoke is particularly dangerous for children, as it increases the risk of asthma and meningitis, along with respiratory conditions like bronchitis, coughs and cot death.

Councillor Caroline Clapper, portfolio holder for leisure, culture and health, said: “Our play areas are important places for children to enjoy themselves and get some exercise, which is why it’s vital they stay free of cigarette fumes.

“The smoking ban is voluntary, so though our officers won’t be enforcing it, we hope it will remind mums, dads and other adults of the negative impact of smoking on their health and the health of their children.

“We also hope it will encourage people to take pride in their neighbourhood. Discarded cigarette butts can make an area look untidy and unloved.”

As part of the drive, children at primary schools in Potters Bar and the wider Hertsmere borough were encouraged to design a voluntary smoking ban poster for Hertsmere’s parks.

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Bella Radley and Olivia Mgbor, both from Ladbrooke JMI, were runners-up to Ellen Hayes, who goes to Summerswood in Borehamwood.

Ladbrooke headteacher Tracey Webster said: “We are proud of the girls’ achievements and as a school we are happy to promote a healthy lifestyle as well as promoting a cleaner environment for everyone to enjoy.”

Kim Custis, Little Heath’s headteacher, also welcomed the crackdown – citing the negative impact of early exposure.

“I do not think it’s acceptable to smoke around children at all and I don’t like E-cigarettes either,” she told the Potters Bar Edition. “The impact on their health and general well-being - it just sets a bad example for later on.”

Rushma Patel, who works for the county’s Stop Smoking Service, added: “Children learn behaviour from adults and are three times more likely to take up smoking themselves if they grow up in a smoking household.

“By reducing their exposure to smoking and adult smokers as role models, we will be able to protect our children’s health.”