A Cork County Councillor, who tabled a motion this week to have a ban on smoking in playgrounds put into new bylaws, has called for the document to be finished in September.
Cllr Deirdre Forde (FG) tabled a motion to ban smoking in all playgrounds in County Cork, to discourage adults from forcing children to passive smoke and to help prevent children taking up the habit later in life.
She told the Cork Independent that she had been left with respiratory problems having been raised around smoking, as her family owned a public house.
“I was around people that smoked all the time, and most of my family smoked,” she said.
“This is why I suffer with asthma now.”
The Council is drafting bylaws written up for playgrounds, which could also include a ban on children over 12 years of age using playground equipment designed for younger children.
The Councillor had been contacted by Ash Ireland, an anti-smoking lobby group, who asked her to take the issue up in the chamber.
“The spirit of it was accepted but yes, there are concerns about how it would be policed,” the Fine Gael councillor told the Cork Independent.
“Smokers are pleading that they are under siege. But smoking is a health problem that the Government is tasked with dealing with and I would be in favour of placing the issue of passive smoking in any children’s rights before the Dáil.
“We must look at this behaviour and the habit of smoking around children. Not only is it dangerous for them, as it is a well-known fact that children exposed to passive smoking suffer more chest infections, but we must avoid passing on this learned behaviour. We don’t want children growing up and smoking themselves,” she said.
A similar prohibition exists at the children’s playground in Doneraile Park, which is managed by the Office of Public Works.
“If people are addicts, that is their decision. Children cannot make a decision to avoid passive smoking, so we must make it for them.”
She added that a smoking ban in playgrounds would also deal with the issue of dumping cigarette butts. “They are everywhere you look in playgrounds. It’s disgusting.”
Council officials and Gardaí will be enforcing the bylaws and allowed to remove people in breach of bylaws, while Gardaí would be permitted to use recording devices if required.
The bylaws will also prohibit cycling, skateboarding and ball playing, with fines ranging from €75 to €1,904.60 for District Court appearances.
The local authority is also looking at the possibility of installing CCTV cameras in playgrounds to monitor anti-social behaviour.
The draft bylaw document is due to be returned to Cork County Council, however, Cllr Forde is calling on it to be finalised in September.
“The sooner we can finalise it, the better. People were horrified too when they heard about the smoking ban and now look at the lovely environment that we have. People will adhere to this too,” said Cllr Forde.