SMOKING in Dublin playgrounds could soon be banned following a successful trial.
Some eight in 10 parents and guardians surveyed by Fingal County Council have expressed support for the initiative.
The local authority piloted the tobacco-free plan at Millennium Park in Blanchardstown and received overwhelming backing -- even from smokers.
Fingal followed the lead of New York, where smoking has been banned in all public parks, beaches and city pedestrian areas.
A strict prohibition was imposed on mothers, fathers, and other members of the public lighting up while at the play area.
It was implemented in co-operation with the HSE and Tobacco Free Research Institute (TRFI).
The move was welcomed by the Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) and other health groups.
The Millennium Park facility was specifically chosen because of its "size, proximity to local schools and the high level of usage of the playground by the local schools and the community in general", Fingal said.
Before and after studies were carried out to assess "whether or not and how best to extend the initiative to other playgrounds" in the county.
Officials revealed: "A pre-introduction survey of parents and guardians using the playground found that 80pc supported it -- as did the majority of smokers surveyed. In a post-introduction survey, 83pc were in favour of the smoking ban."
The council plans to bring a more comprehensive report on the initiative to a future strategic policy committee meeting "with a view to extending this approach to all public playgrounds in Fingal". It follows a call by Dublin city councillors for a similar measure to be introduced in the city area.
Independent councillor Christy Burke and Fine Gael's Mary O'Shea tabled a motion on the issue.
Mr Burke told the Herald last July that he wanted to see a ban implemented across the inner city.
However, the city council confirmed today this has yet to happen.
"I think it's a good idea. Many people feel it has no effect but it can," Mr Burke said. It would also help reduce "passive smoking" by children, he added.
Michael O'Shea, IHF chief executive, said the smoke-free playground in Blanchardstown was "a positive and pro-active measure to protect young children from the harmful chemicals of passive smoking and to de-normalise tobacco use".