WE can appreciate the benefits of banning smoking in playgrounds – a move originally proposed by Newport councillors.

Councillors have backed down from the move, however, after receiving advice that enforcing it might run up against legal problems.

The Smoke Free Premises Regulations ban smoking in public areas which are enclosed or partly enclosed. However, despite attitudes to smoking in public changing in recent years, smokers are largely at liberty to light up while outdoors.

But while the risk to children of inhaling second-hand smoke in open-air playgrounds is far less than indoors or in enclosed spaces, people smoking near to children playing perhaps sends out the wrong message to the youngsters.

Most health-conscious parents would probably prefer smoker-free playgrounds, while we know many parents who smoke take steps to ensure they do so away from their children.

So we think posting signs in Newport’s 60 play areas asking people not to smoke while there – a move funded by a Public Health Wales wellbeing grant – is a sensible alternative.

People would be made aware that smoking is discouraged around the playing children – both informing smokers about what is acceptable and strengthening the arm of parents and others in a playground who may object to anyone smoking there and ask them to stop.