Bristol trials smoke-free zones in two public squares

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Media captionJon Kay visits Bristol's new smoke-free zone and spoke to Smokefree South West's Kate Knight

Two city squares in Bristol have become Britain's first major public outdoor spaces to go smoke-free after a voluntary pilot launched.

The initiative came into effect in Millennium Square and Anchor Square on Bristol's Harbourside.

Smokefree South West, which initiated the voluntary pilot, expects the scheme to police itself.

Simon Clark, director of the smokers' group Forest, criticised the scheme as an example of "creeping prohibition".

Smokefree South West director Fiona Andrews said it was an "exciting" time and hoped the project would create a lasting legacy.

"We hope it will have a lasting impact not only on Millennium Square and Anchor Square, but on the wider region," she said.

"These city centre squares are often full of children playing and this pilot will provide a smoke-free environment for kids and their families to enjoy."

Image caption Signs were put up in Millennium Square on Monday
Image copyright PA
Image caption Last year a report by Lord Darzi suggested UK cities should ban smoking in public spaces and parks

The smoke-free zone will be promoted with signs that thank people for keeping Bristol smoke-free, healthy and clean.

But Mr Clark said: "Extending public smoking bans to outdoor areas is illiberal and unwarranted.

"Smoking in the open-air harms no-one apart, perhaps, from the consumer and that's their choice.

"Tobacco is a legal product. Smokers contribute £10bn a year in tobacco taxation alone. They must be allowed to light up somewhere without harassment."

Last year a report by former health minister Lord Darzi suggested UK cities should ban smoking in public spaces and parks.

Cities including New York, Toronto and Hong Kong have already banned smoking in key outdoor locations, but Bristol is the UK's first to pilot smoke-free zones.

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