'Young Lungs at Play' is launched
A new smoke-free initiative 'Young Lungs at Play' was launched in Aughrim, Co Wicklow, by the HSE in partnership with Arklow Municipal District and County Wicklow Partnership.
Local Children from Aughrim were on hand to help officially launch the new initiative, the aim of which is to encourage the public to keep communal areas such as playgrounds and parks free from tobacco smoke.
New 'Tobacco - Free' signs have been placed in six playgrounds, outdoor gym areas, other local amenities (such as at the local Duck Pond) and in the 'Moments in Time' garden in the Arklow Municipal District area. The new signs also show contact details of services that are available, free-of-charge, to all adults seeking support to quit.
This initiative aims to support families and communities to create a healthy environment for their children to play. The vision is to develop shared communal smoke-free spaces that protect children from the harmful effects of second hand smoke.
Wicklow TD, Minister Simon Harris welcomed the project. 'As a local TD and Minister for Health, I am really pleased to be supporting this fantastic initiative here in Co Wicklow. We are making real progress in terms of reducing the numbers of people who are smoking, and this initiative is another excellent addition,' he said. 'I am really pleased that this initiative not only discourages people from smoking in the area but highlights the supports that are available for those who do want to quit. Smoking is an addiction and it is vital that we work with people and communities to reduce dependency,' he added.
Martina Blake, National Lead, Tobacco Free Ireland Programme, HSE Health & Wellbeing said the goal was to denormalise smoking for the next generation. 'We know children model adult behaviour. The 'Young Lungs at play' initiative will help ensure the children of Aughrim see and experience a positive healthy environment as the norm,' she said. 'Quitting can be difficult for some, but there are a wide range of effective supports available to help you to QUIT. Using our supports will help double your chances of success. You can contact the local support clinic in Arklow and Wicklow primary care centres on 01 2744297, on quit.ie or our free national QUIT helpline 1800 201 203,' Ms Blake added.
Cathaoirleach, Arklow Municipal District, Cllr Miriam Murphy, said that cigarette butts currently account for more than half of all litter and the clean-up is a major cost to the Local Authority. 'In addition to protecting health, the smoke free areas will be more pleasant for everyone, as they will be cleaner, safer and free of cigarette butts,' she continued.
Ms Siobhan Fitzpatrick, Head Of Service, Health & Wellbeing, Community Healthcare East acknowledged the importance of the multiagency aspect. 'My vision for this initiative is for all parks to be free from tobacco use across our Community Healthcare Organisation; that our population can enjoy their leisure time in a tobacco free environment,' she said.