Stub it out, Luton set to tackle scourge of cigarette smoke

editorial image

Luton is taking further steps in its ambition to become a smoke free town as smoke free initiatives are due to be added to measures already taken as part of the process.

Three new proposals are in the pipeline, if they get the seal of approval from the borough council’s executive next month.

The plan is for:

>smoke free signs to be put up in St George’s Square to reduce the levels of cigarette smoke in a public place visited by children and families;

>similar signage to go up at council-owned playgrounds to reduce the levels of smoking where children play;

>and these signs to be installed at the entrances to The Mall to reduce smoking in these areas, which the local authority says are partly enclosed.

The majority of people don’t smoke, and of the people who smoke the majority wish to quit, according to the council’s development officer public health Lisa Hudson.

“Rather than being a lifestyle choice, which a lot of people assume, it is more often than not a tobacco addiction,” she explained.

“Most often it’s influenced by the adults smoking around children.

“This concerns the smoke free initiatives, so putting signs up in all our playgrounds across Luton, 54 of them, with smoke free signage saying: ‘We thank you for not smoking in this area’.

“The other signs will be St George’s Square and around the entrances to The Mall.”

South councillor David Agbley, who chairs Luton Borough Council’s scrutiny, health and social care review group, asked if vaping was equally a concern.

“It is tobacco smoke we’re talking about,” she replied. “That’s where the harms to health are coming from.

“Vaping is found to be 95 per cent safer than smoking tobacco. So we as public health in Luton have no issues with people vaping outside.”

Ms Hudson said the campaign would have to be voluntary although enforcement officers locally can issue business cards that say: ‘Thank you for not smoking in this area’.

“The cards can have some information on the back about where people can get help to stop smoking, if that’s what they want.

“If you consider social care costs, how much we spend as a council on tidying up and getting rid of cigarette paraphernalia, and the NHS expense, it does cost us £49.8m.

“If you take away what we gain in duty on cigarettes, it’s £23.3m. It is still a significant amount,” she added.

“We will work with our schools to design the actual posters or signage.

“That message will be quite strong, such as ‘Thank you for not smoking in this area … think of my lungs’.”