NEWPORT council is looking at plans to introduce smoke-free play areas in parks across the city.

Welsh government healthy minister Mark Drakeford has urged local authorities to impose restrictions in an effort to reduce children’s exposure to second-hand smoke.

Leisure and culture cabinet member Debbie Wilcox is now considering a report on the scheme which could see signs put up at 60 play areas.

Further plans for smoke-free areas around schools and leisure centres could also be on the cards.

It is hoped the plan will help discourage children from taking up the habit as they get older.

The report said: “The time spent in playgrounds and parks is hugely important for a child’s development and health. The dangers of passive smoking are well documented, and smokers usually start before they reach 18 years of age.

“Children can be impressionable and influenced by what they see. By asking people not to smoke in areas where children play, we are creating truly child-friendly environments and protecting children from an addiction that will have a detrimental effect on their health in the future.”

Officers wrote that playgrounds where smoking is banned are associated with lower levels of adolescent smoking.

A competition would be launched for children and young people in Newport to design the signs. “Signs can help people to challenge someone who lights up in a play area and point those who want to quit to services that can help them.,” the report read.

“This is especially important for parents, as their children are more likely to start smoking than those of non-smoking parents.”

The authority has been quoted £4,252 for the installation and provision of signs across 60 play areas in Newport.

“Plans to roll out to other smoke free environments such as outside schools and leisure centres will be investigated and considered in the future,” said the report.

A survey of 272 children in Newport found that 211 did want play areas, parks and the areas outside schools and leisure centres made smoke free.

Cllr Wilcox is due to make her decision in the near future.