NEW rules including banning smoking in playground and school grounds in Wales as well as tougher restrictions on tattooing and piercing have been given unanimous approval by AMs.

The Public Health (Wales) Bill was nodded through in the Assembly this afternoon following a storied journey through the legislative process.

Trumpeted by minister for social services and public health Rebecca Evans as "the latest in a long line of measures the Welsh Government has introduced to improve the health and wellbeing of the people of Wales" the bill is radical in its scope.

At its heart is a strong focus on protecting young people's health, its centrepiece being the introduction of a ban on smoking in school grounds, public playgrounds, and the outdoor areas of registered childcare settings.

That ban will extend too, to hospital grounds, enshrining in law a prohibition that health boards have sought to encourage on a voluntary basis - with varying degrees of success - for several years.

Speaking in the Senedd yesterday, Ms Evans said: “The bill before the Assembly today continues Wales’ strong record of using legislation to protect health.

“It will make a real and positive difference to our communities in a number of ways.”

The bill also prohibits tobacco and nicotine products from being handed over to under-18s by home delivery or collection services, and creates a national register of retailers of tobacco and nicotine products.

Also created is a mandatory licensing scheme for ‘special procedures’ - acupuncture, body piercing, electrolysis and tattooing - while the intimate piercing of anybody under the age of 18 becomes prohibited.

The bill also placing a duty on councils to prepare and publish a local toilets strategy, including an assessment of the need for toilets for public use, and details of how that need will be met.

It also seeks to weave into the fabric of Welsh life the importance of taking into account the impact on physical and mental health of institutional decision making. Public bodies will be required to assess how their decisions will affect such issues.

Planning of pharmacy services must become more responsive to the needs of communities.

And there will be a duty on the Welsh Government to produce a national strategy on preventing and reducing obesity.

Wales' chief medical officer Dr Frank Atherton said the bill will help to "keep pace with emerging public health concerns."

He cited the increasing popularity of body piercing and tattooing, and added: "This Bill will ensure that only those with safe working practices can carry out these procedures.

“(It) will also provide a legislative focus for our work to tackle the major public health challenge of obesity.”

The bill has travelled a lengthy path toward the statute book, and arguably it was initially even more radical.

A first attempt included ground-breaking proposals to limit the use of e-cigarettes in selected public places where children might be present, and this looked likely to be approved in Mach last year.

However the bill was scuppered just days before the Assembly was dissolved ahead of the 2016 election

Plaid Cymru AMs - some of whom had been prepared to vote for the partial e-cigarettes ban - were originally given a free vote on the matter, but voted en masse against it.

This was in protest at a comment by the Labour administration's public services minister Leighton Andrews, that Plaid Cymru AMs' support constituted a "cheap date."