Canberrans are encouraged to have their say on whether playgrounds in the ACT should be declared smoke-free – the first areas to be declared under new legislation passed by the Legislative Assembly in March to help keep our community healthy.
Assistant Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris has released a discussion paper and opened a four-week community consultation to seek feedback on restricting smoking in public playgrounds and play spaces frequently used by children and families.
“We know that smoking remains a leading cause of preventable death and disease in Australia. That’s why we want to work with the community to get our smoking rates down and reduce harmful levels of second hand smoke in public places,” Minister Fitzharris said.
“One way to do this is to create smoke-free areas in our community. Earlier this year we passed legislation to make it easier to declare some places smoke-free, and this consultation will focus on public playgrounds and play spaces.
“Playgrounds across Canberra are wonderful places where children can run around and have fun, and where families and friends can catch up over a barbecue or game of soccer. We want to ensure our playgrounds are vibrant, happy places to be, and this consultation will help to determine if making them smoke-free is something people support.
“Second hand smoke can be particularly harmful to children because their lungs are still developing and they have a higher risk of health conditions such as middle ear infections, upper and lower respiratory infections, asthma, chronic cough and developmental delays, which can be exacerbated by exposure to second hand smoke.
“Evidence has shown that smoke-free outdoor areas can also reduce exposure to the role modelling of smoking behaviours, to help to prevent children and young people from taking up smoking to begin with.
“I strongly encourage the community, especially parents or carers of young children and anyone who loves our playgrounds, to have a say on this issue. Your feedback will help to inform whether smoking at playgrounds should be restricted to protect children and young people from second hand smoke,” said Minister Fitzharris.
The community consultation is open until 11 August 2016. A discussion paper on the proposed declaration of smoke-free ACT Government owned public playgrounds and play spaces is available online at: www.timetotalk.act.gov.au.