South Tyneside's beaches and town centres could become smoking-free zones under new plans

Smoking could be banned in play areas, beaches and town centres and in social care across South Tyneside in a drive to help people quit.
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More than 15 per cent of people in the borough still smoke – the second highest rate in the region and well above the national average of 12 per cent.

Earlier this year the Government published the Khan review, an independent study of moves that could help more people kick the habit.

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A full council meeting on Thursday, October 27, will hear what progress has been made across the borough to implement its recommendations – and what more could be done.

Councillors will be asked to consider a ban on lighting up to cover play areas, beaches and town centres.

Plans have also has been drawn up to introduce smoke-free social care for both staff and service users, as well as social housing tenants and staff, and offer more help to quit to Council and Homes workers at the authority’s Middlefields depot.

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Coun Anne Hetherington, the Lead Member for Adults, Health and Wellbeing, said: “Smokers in disadvantaged communities are most likely to be disproportionately impacted by poverty and the cost-of-living crisis.

South Shields' Sandhaven BeachSouth Shields' Sandhaven Beach
South Shields' Sandhaven Beach
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"It is, therefore, more crucial than ever that we support people to quit. Doing so will not only improve people’s health in our most deprived communities, but also their financial situation and mental health issues.”

Thursday’s meeting will hear that the proportion of people smoking rises steeply among some groups, including more than 45 per cent of people with a serious mental illness and 28 per cent of manual workers.

A pilot scheme to help people with a severe mental illness quit is already under way while additional funding will allow more support for smokers in routine and manual roles from next year.

And the council is working with the South Tyneside and Sunderland Foundation Trust to help patients kick the habit, with smokers offered free medication during their hospital stay and beyond.

No smoking zones could be extended across South Tyneside to help people quitNo smoking zones could be extended across South Tyneside to help people quit
No smoking zones could be extended across South Tyneside to help people quit
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Next week’s meeting will see members asked to agree the recommendations of the Khan Review and to write to the Health Minister to ask the Government to publish a new Tobacco Control Plan for England, after reports it may be about to break its pledge to do so.