Trafalgar and Parliament squares smoking ban to cost £6.5m

Guy Bentley
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New smoking bans? (Source: Getty)

London's 1.2m smokers could face new restrictions on where they can light up if the mayor Boris Johnson decides to implement a report from London's Health Commission (LHC).

Smoking could be banned in London's parks, Trafalgar and Parliament squares. The proposals will certainly be controversial in a city where 18 per cent of the population are smokers.

The mayor could use his byelaw powers over Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square and his influence over the Royal Parks, the board of which he appoints, to implement the recommendations.

Local councils could pass the measures using similar byelaws for their parks and open public spaces. The report estimates the cost implementation will run to £6.5m over five years.

London has 20,000 acres of parks and open parks, covering 40 per cent of the city - more than any other capital in the world. However, London may not be the only UK city to see stricter smoking bans.

Lord Dazi, who unveiled the report, said the proposals, "could just as easily apply to other big cities in the UK - London should be a leader, not an exception.

The measures have been met with stiff opposition. Simon Clark, director of smokers rights group Forest, said:

A ban on smoking in parks and squares would be outrageous. There's no health risk to anyone other than the smoker. If you don't like the smell, walk away.

Tobacco is a legal product. If the Chief Medical Officer doesn't like people smoking in front of children, she should lobby the government to introduce designated smoking rooms in pubs and clubs so adults can smoke inside in comfort.

The next thing you know we'll be banned from smoking in our own gardens in case a whiff of smoke travels over the fence."

The former mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg, famous for his public health initiatives and prohibitions commented:

London’s new initiative would be a major achievement because no other capital city boasts so much parkland. London’s plan will help prevent children from picking up the habit, discourage adults from smoking, and improve the health of children and families.

Fresh smoking bans were far from the only plans layed out in the LHC report. Lord Dazi called for restrictions on fast food outlets near schools, with new planning guidelines to prevent these restaurants from opening within 400m of schools.

Certain London boroughs were advised to use their licensing powers to impose a minimum unit price for alcohol of 50p per unit. Furthermore, Chains with over 15 outlets will be compelled to display traffic-light labelling on their menus.

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