PARENTS have been told to stop smoking in play areas across Pendle.

‘No smoking’ signs have been installed at all 57 outdoor play areas and skate parks in the borough.

The message is also being aimed at teenagers as part of a drive by Pendle Council to improve health.

The move has been welcomed by an anti-smoking charity and the local MP Andrew Stephenson.

Council chiefs have admitted they can’t enforce it by law but are appealing for parents to stick to it in the best interests of the children.

Coun Naeem Ashraf, Pendle Council’s executive member for parks, said the move was aimed at reducing the risk of children passive smoking.

“It is about protecting the health of our children,” he said.

“The dangers of passive smoking are well known and children shouldn’t have to be subjected to it.

“If people are smoking in play areas then it is not a safe environment for children to be in.

“There is also the risk of people leaving butts of cigarettes or matches lying around.

“I have two children myself and wouldn’t want them to be playing when smoke is around.”

A spokeswoman for ASH, the health charity that works to eliminate harm caused by tobacco, said: “We support this move.

“There are two issues. One is passive smoking. The evidence is very clear that children exposed to second hand smoke are at risk of suffering from breathing problems.

“There is also the issue of setting a good example. We don’t want to see children starting to smoke. If parents and guardians refrain from smoking when taking children to the park then it sets a good example.

“It is all about acting responsibly.”

Although no legal action can be taken against someone smoking in a play area, councillors hope people will abide by the no smoking signs.

Coun Ashraf said: “There is no legal enforcement for it but it is going to be quite heavily advertised.

“We will be asking everybody to abide by this and stop smoking in these areas.”

Research commissioned by ASH carried out in March, which only surveyed smokers, found that just under half would support a ban on smoking in play areas.

Coun Mike Blomeley, leader of Pendle Council, said: “We simply don’t want people smoking around where young children are.

“There are potential health issues for children in areas where people are smoking.

“It also sets a bad example if people are standing around smoking when children are there.

“It is the sensible thing to do. It’s just about trying to discourage it and send a message out.”

Mr Stephenson said: “I wouldn’t encourage people to smoke around children.

“I am not too big a fan of too many health and safety signs, especially ones that are not enforceable, but in this instance I think the council are right, as long as the signs are not too in your face.”