SMOKING in children’s play parks could be stumped out if a council has its way.

Durham County Council’s cabinet has agreed to hold a consultation on plans to make parks smoke free, as part of its work with the Smokefree County Durham Tobacco Control Alliance.

Smoking is the single biggest preventable cause of premature death in the UK, with around half of all long-term smokers dying prematurely.

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In the North-East, 15 people a day die of a smoking related illness.

At a cabinet meeting at the Witham in Barnard Castle today (Wednesday, June 11), Anna Lynch, the council’s director of public health, said it was important to protect children from smoke to prevent them taking up the habit.

She said: “It is about reducing the opportunities for smoking around children to create a society where not smoking is seen as the norm.”

The consultation will apply to all 178 parks owned by Durham County Council.

Parish and town councils that own parks will also be consulted to widen the initiative to all play areas across the county

If approved, it will be self regulatory, with no smoking signs introduced in phases.

Councillor Lucy Hovvels, cabinet member for safer and healthier communities, said: “The burden of smoking on our county is enormous. We must make sure we support out supporters to quit and help prevent our children and young people from starting to smoke.”