Officials Call to Ban Smoking in London’s Parks and Squares

17th October 2014

During a major health review in London, Mayor Boris Johnson has suggested that smoking be banned in the local parks and squares. It is also understood that councils throughout the rest of Britain are analysing how proposals such as this could be put into practice locally, leading to what could potentially be the most important concentrated effort to ban smoking since the Smoke Free legislation issued in 2007. Backed by England’s chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies, radical proposals presented by former Health Minister Lord Darzi have stated that London’s Royal Parks, Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square should all place restrictions on smoking. Lord Darzi states that the Mayor should ban smoking through the use of bylaws at important landmarks such as Parliament Square and Trafalgar Square.

He believes that it would be a strong message from the capital for the UK to become smoke-free. He feels that becoming the healthiest major global city would be the greatest way to portray London’s ambition. Lord Darzi also suggests that the Mayor should use the influence he has surrounding the Royal Parks, such as Regent’s Park and Hyde Park, to enforce smoking bans. There are 20,000 acres of parkland in London, and if such bans were to be enforced by local councils and Royal Parks, huge amounts of the capital would be unavailable to smokers.

The report from Lord Darzi also contains a number of measures set to improve the lives of Londoners, such as restrictions on new junk food outlets opening near schools, compulsory ‘traffic light’ nutritional information on the menus of chain restaurants and a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol to be tried out in boroughs that are affected by alcoholism.  Lord Darzi feels that his plans are very much applicable to other cities in the UK as well as London.
Mr Johnson feels that it’s time for London to have this debate, but states that he would need to see fairly strong evidence that these smoking bans would save lives. With London having more parkland than any of the world’s other major cities, Lord Darzi says that these measures would set a better example for children, on the notion that the equivalent of two classrooms full of children in the capital take up smoking each day. Smoking causes 8,000 deaths in London every year.

Dame Sally Davies commented that she welcomes any plan to reduce both the act of smoking itself and the role it plays in influencing children. Scotland’s Government has requested that councils consider having smoking bans extended to other places within their jurisdiction, in particular those frequently visited by children. There are also smoking bans in place in play areas around many parts of Wales.

A number of cities around the world have smoking bans in place, including Hong Kong, Toronto and New York.