Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Should Crawley Have Smoke-Free Zones?

This week in my Crawley Observer column, I have written about how potentially, we could improve the environment of some of Crawley's premier outdoor spaces, by making them smoke-free. 
Our plans to make Queens Square a nicer place
"There is up to a seven year difference in life expectancy between the east and the west of Crawley, as well as big inequalities in health. These differences are matched by the variance in smoking rates between the east and west of the town. Smoking is the biggest single cause of preventable deaths in the UK and the overall smoking rate in Crawley is higher than the national average.
The health benefits are obvious but there are also other reasons to discourage smoking. Cigarettes and other smoking materials are the primary cause of fatal accidental fires in the home, a major cause of outdoor fires, and are the most common form of litter in the UK. Crawley has some lovely places but all too often, they can be spoiled by discarded cigarette ends. They seem to get replaced as fast as the Council can come round and sweep them up.

The city of Bristol has recognised this problem as well as that crucially; de-normalising smoking is the best way to stop young people taking up the habit and to help encourage smokers to quit. In February, Bristol launched voluntary smoke-free zones in two of their large city centre squares as a trial. I am interested in what Crawley residents think about me potentially advocating a policy to trial some of Crawley’s premier outdoor spaces as smoke free areas. Potential places for consideration would be the Memorial Gardens and Queens Square (not including the coffee shop outdoor seating areas), once the major improvement works are completed next year.
Following the regeneration, Queens Square will have interactive water features and will be an attractive place for families with children. I can see real potential for making Queens Square and the Memorial Gardens more pleasant environments for families if no one smoked. However, it is vital that any such schemes have public support in order to work. Therefore, before I discuss my idea with councillor colleagues to see whether or not we should consider advocating site-specific smoke-free zones, I would very much welcome your thoughts. Please do drop me a line at Duncan.crow@crawley.gov.uk"


Julia said...

In your post you say, "There is up to a seven year difference in life expectancy between the east and the west of Crawley, as well as big inequalities in health." What is your source of data for this comment and is it east or west with the higher life expectancy?

Duncan Crow said...

Public Health England is the source of this data. It is the west of the town that has the lower life expectancy. Pound Hill and Maidenbower has the higher life expectancy and Broadfield and Bewbush the lowest. The difference is 8 years for men and 6 years for woman. Smoking rates are two or three times higher in some neighbourhoods than others.

I'm not sure links work here in the comments. Searching "Life expectancy Crawley" will easily find this information. http://www.apho.org.uk/resource/item.aspx?RID=171930

Anonymous said...

Totally agreed that we should have more SMOKE FREE ZONE. (All the forests and town centre)
This is a fact that smoking (including passive smoker) has less life expectancy. It is also true that you can see more people smoke in Broadfield and Bewbush. I am not too sure about the whole life expectancy thing as there are many factors contribute to it (Diet, Gen, wealth etc)

To make it fair (as smoker has right too), we should also put a few smoking shelter at the boundary of smoke free zone.
Hopefully our smoking education and treatment can be more effective so more and more people can quit smoking.

Anonymous said...

We have to think of the businesses that might be affected from the smoking band in town square, the majority of smokers are smokers because they like it, if a smoker dosent feel that his need to smoke isint fufilled in the square then their visits and time spent at the square will be minimized or there visits might even seaze and there might be shift of there visits to other areas of crawley that wont have this band, from a bussines point of view there is a financial risk that might hit the shops of this ban gets put in place. Every side must be looked at before taking the plunge, if i were a bussines owner in the squarw i would worry.