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Don't smoke in our playground

Today (Wednesday, March 12) is national no smoking day and Boston primary school children have joined a campaign to get adults to think twice about smoking in play areas.

Children from Staniland and Park Academies have been hearing about the hazards of smoking and designed new signs for play areas in Boston designed to persuade adults not to smoke around children playing.

Gabija (10) from Staniland Academy was proud to see her effort put into place at Woodville Road Park on two signs and three more, by Wiki Wisniewska (11) from Park Academy, were put up in the Central Park children's play area.

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Children from Staniland Academy with their sign in Woodville Road play area. Designer Gabija (10) is pictured third from left.

One of the children's designs will also grace a sign on Shelton's Field near Park Academy.

Children from both schools took part in a litter pick and helped Gary Husband, from Boston Allsigns, put the news signs into place.

At Central Park children were joined by Big Cig, a grumpy-looking giant cigarette who looked on as they used mechanical litter-pickers to remove cigarette ends and other litter from the play area.

Wiki said: "I made my sign look happy. Everyone is happy that there are no cigarette ends in the park."

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Children from Park Academy with their no smoking sign in Boston's Central Park play area. Winning designer Wiki is pictured standing to the immediate right of the sign. Also pictured, Boston Borough Council's parks and open spaces portfolio holder, Cllr Yvonne Gunter, and regulatory services portfolio holder, Cllr Stephen Woodliffe.

Jen Moore, Boston Borough Council's environment and sustainability officer, said the signs asking adults not to smoke in the play areas were advisory only but it was hoped they would make smokers think twice.

The proposal to ask smokers to stop lighting up in children's play areas in Boston received overwhelming backing following a consultation exercise undertaken by Boston Borough Council and supported by partners the Smokefree Lincs Alliance.

Findings from the consultation report show 96 per cent of the responses to the countywide survey were supportive, with a slightly higher proportion (98 per cent) in favour of a voluntary ban at Boston play areas. A total of 372 responded countywide (112 in Boston).

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Nils Mezals (7) finds a cigarette end to pick up while grumpy Big Cig looks on.

Boston residents identified the following main benefits from smoke free play areas: Children's health (93 per cent), cleaner, safer environment (86 per cent), discourages smoking (52 per cent) and less tobacco litter (66 per cent).

Smoking is the leading cause of ill-health and preventable deaths in the UK with smoking prevalence in Boston much higher than the Lincolnshire average.

Children are a vulnerable group and learn their behaviour from adults. They become aware of smoking at an early age; three out of four children are aware of cigarettes before they reach five years old.

If children see smoking as a normal part of everyday life they are more likely to become smokers themselves. Smoking is a childhood addiction with most young people trying their first cigarette at 13 years old or younger.

Initiatives, such as smoke free play areas can help to de-normalise smoking and reduce the risk of exposure to second hand smoke.

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Dziugas Klinga (11), left, and Vadims Vasiljeus (10) find litter dropped right next to the litter bin.