Image by lindseymclarkewith permission
From next week, Monday 20 July, the children’s play area in Mile End Park will be the next No Smoking zone. Tower Hamlets is taking this step to become the first local authority to ban smoking in an open public space in order to stop children from coming under the influence of smokers and to minimise ‘passive smoking’.
While it sounds a rather punitive move, further figures from the Tower Hamlets Big Book of Tobacco Usage show this ban to be part of a bigger effort to rid the borough of the bad habit. The borough has one of the highest heart disease and cancer rates in the country and one in three adults smoke rather than the national average of one in four. Although we can imagine this ban might push smokers to just outside the boundaries of the ban, allowing smoking to be seen and passively inhaled within the play area anyhow, the ban is nonetheless a nudge for park users to be more conscientious about smoking in public spaces. Whether or not there will be pictorial notices in fuzzy felt for Tower Hamlets’ junior smokers is not confirmed.