The first city in the UK to ban smoking in outdoor public places

Addiction Public Health

Bristol today became the first city in the UK to ban smoking in outdoor public places.

Anti-smoking campaigners installed signs in two busy outdoor spaces – Millennium Square and Anchor Square – after a poll found 61 per cent of locals were in favour.

Keep Bristol Smoke Free

The pilot scheme will see smokers asked to stub out cigarettes when in the two areas, but it will be up to each individual bars and restaurants if they choose to comply.

The project by Smokefree South West was inspired by mother Kirsty Vass, 33, who was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease a year ago. Ms Vass, who smoked 20 cigarettes a day for more than 15 years, suffered a collapsed lung and is now constantly short of breath and has to be supported by her daughter Lucy, 15. The mum from Torbay, Devon, said: “My smoking illness has caused my whole world to come crashing down. “If young people see you smoking then they think its alight, but they don’t understand what it can do to you, so making smoking less visible in public places can only be a good thing. “I don’t want other people to be like me because this isn’t a life, it’s a life sentence. If I can make people realise that this is what smoking does to you then please, please, please quit now because it’s really not worth it, especially if you’ve got kids.”

A study of 1,000 people conducted by Smokefree South West revealed more than four out of five people have encouraged a friend or loved one to quit smoking. More than half said that the fact their friend or loved one still continued to smoke made them feel anxious, with more than one in ten complaining that their worry kept them awake at night.

New York, Toronto and Hong Kong, have already banned smoking in some popular outdoor locations and it is hoped the scheme could be embraced by other UK cities.

Fiona Andrews, director of Smokefree South West, said: “This is an exciting initiative that we hope will have a lasting impact on not just Millennium Square and Anchor Square, but the wider region and potentially the rest of the UK. “These city centre squares are often full of children playing and this pilot will provide a smoke-free environment for kids and their parents to enjoy. “We know that most smokers want to quit but often put it off until it’s too late to avoid serious damaging disease or early death. We all know smoking kills but somehow we think it will kill ‘other people’ not us. For those who are close friends of a smoker or who love them this can be very hard and even frightening to live with. Smoking has a dramatic emotional impact on friends and family members, on top of the well documented damage caused by passive smoking, which is especially harmful to children who breathe it in more rapidly.

“The message is simple, if you don’t want to quit for your own health, then take that step to do it for the health of your family and your relationships, as your loved ones are desperate to help you quit, but often feel powerless to do so. The trick is to keep setting a date to go smokefree. Powerful campaigns that help bring home just why it is worth stopping, and then help show them how to quit, help to spur smokers on again to break free of tobacco. We are saying to all smokers in the south west: evidence shows 1 in 2 of you will die early of a tobacco-related disease, but it doesn’t have to be that way for you.”

Bristol was named European Green Capital for 2015 and assistant mayor for public health Daniella Radice said: “I am excited to see how this pilot can change people’s habits and make Bristol an even more enjoyable place to live and to visit.”