Stub it out! Push to ban smoking from outdoor spaces

MM24 smoking

Campaigners hope to see smoking banned from outdoor public spaces in Norwich - Credit: Archant

Smokers have been warned they could face fines for lighting up in public under radical new proposals from an anti-ciggie pressure group. 

The Clean Air Norwich anti-smoking campaign group has also put forward plans for designated non-smoking benches in places including the market.

They say this would ensure children and those with breathing difficulties are not inhaling smoke.

Norwich City Council has previously considered introducing a smoking ban for children's parks a few years ago but it was dropped.

However, there are now renewed calls for the Fine City to follow cities including Melbourne and New York and tell smokers to "stub it out". 

Matt White, 40, who set up Clean Air Norwich, was diagnosed with the lung condition bronchiectasis in 2008.

Matt White, a campaigner for Adblock Norwich 

Matt White, of Clean Air Norwich, who suffers from lung disease - Credit: Matt White

He is calling for the council to take action to prevent smoking in busy outdoor areas. 

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Mr White - who also has asthma - said: "While outdoor smoke dissipates faster than indoor smoke, it still has a significant impact on local air quality and on public health. 

"This is especially true for the most vulnerable including children, the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions.

"As a lung disease sufferer, I often find outdoor areas unbearable because of passive smoking and have to move to cleaner air."

Mr White would like to see more pubs introduce outdoor smoking areas in addition to parks and conservation areas.

But Phil Cutter, landlord of The Murderers pub in Timber Hill believes it would be "a step too far" to extend the 2007 smoking ban for enclosed public places into gardens as well.

Philip Cutter the landlord at The Murdrers & Gardeners Arms in Norwich pictured in 2019. Picture: Ne

Phil Cutter, the landlord of The Murderers in Norwich - Credit: Archant

Mr Cutter added: "We have a tables and chair area at the bottom of the hill and one of the conditions when we take over the area was no smoking in the confines of the area.

"The council is licensing new areas people can use as a smoke free environment.

"When we have got an open area like that we always have people who walk past those areas smoking which then wafts over."

The landlord also highlighted that the government may be reluctant to make smoking illegal due to the revenue generated from it. 

PA Photo: Michael Crabtree

PA Photo: Michael Crabtree - Credit: PA

Chrissie Rumsby is the Labour county councillor for the Mile Cross ward where a high proportion of people smoke. 

She said: "It's a bit of a funny one because a lot of people do it to relax so a wholesale ban could be difficult.

"But I can see why they would do it from a public health point of view.

"It's a really good idea but it also raises questions over people's individual rights." 

Chrissie Rumsby, councillor for Mile Cross

Councillor Chrissie Rumsby - Credit: Labour Party

It comes as the UK's first smoking ban in an outdoor public space could come into force by the end of the year in Manchester with further smoke-free spaces introduced by March 2023. 

But although Manchester is now seriously considering this scheme, Norwich City Council has not confirmed whether something similar could be implemented in the Fine City.

Figures from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health show smoking has been found to cause 16 types of cancer and is linked to at least six further types of the disease.

Smoking also remains the UK’s single greatest cause of preventable illness and avoidable death, with 100,000 people dying each year from smoking-related diseases.

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at Norfolk County Council who represents the Catton Grove division, would prefer to see fewer people smoking in public spaces in the city.

He said: "Smoking is not as oppressive as it used to be but it can nonetheless be harmful to outdoor spaces.

"Even before Covid there was more of a move for people to use outdoor spaces. Smoking is increasingly being seen as anti-social and harmful." 

Steve Morphew, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Steve Morphew, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

The Department of Health and Social Care said any initiative to introduce a ban on smoking in outdoor spaces would be "very much council led". 

Norwich City Council has been contacted for comment.