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No smoking in playgrounds

(24 Posts)
Tigermoth Mon 18-Feb-02 17:27:54

A notice at our local playground states that the nicotine content in one cigarette stub could kill a small child, if swallowed. Is this really true?

A cigarette certainly harmed my toddler yesterday. We were at a Thomas the Tank railway day and as my 2 year old walked past a woman, her lit cigarette brushed the top of his head, resulting in singed hair and a large patch of grey ash on his scalp, but luckily no tears. It was an accident and the woman was mortified.

These two things set me thinking. Should cigarette smoking should be banned from children's outdoor play spaces?

Enid Mon 18-Feb-02 17:29:29

Yes! But I think it should be banned in all public spaces. And yes, I am an ex-smoker!

callie Mon 18-Feb-02 19:08:52

Wow! that is really frightening, Tigermoth.
My dd is still at the stage of putting everything in her mouth and i have to watch her like a hawk.
I think in light of this imformation that yes smoking in public parks at least should definitly be banned.

B.t.w. I would be livid if someone burnt my child with fag! She should have watched what she was doing and been more careful.

Willow2 Mon 18-Feb-02 21:46:15

As a toddler my brother ate an entire ashtray of cigarette butts. My mother called teh doctor only to be told that they would taste so horrible she must be mistaken. Then my brother went a greenish colour. He had to have his stomach pumped out - but he lived to tell the tale.... and eat an entire box of fluoride tablets (yet another dash to casualty)..... and stick a (fortunately done up) nappy pin up his bottom while having his nappy changed (yet another emergency call out). He won't thank me for sharing all the above with you - but he is a healthy, happy thirty something now who as far as I know has suffered no long term side effects, other than we all think he is barking.

emsiewill Tue 19-Feb-02 09:10:43

I'm another one who thinks smoking should be banned in all public areas - and no, I'm not an ex-smoker . I've often feared that one of my children would be burned by someone's flailing ciggie - hope this episode puts your son off smoking for life Tigermoth!

Marina Tue 19-Feb-02 09:11:45

Tigermoth, yes, nicotine is a highly poisonous substance, one of purest and most lethal alkaloids found in nature. That is apart from the concentrated tar and 100s of other toxic chemicals (perfume, pesticide residues, preservatives, burning agents not dissimilar to napalm in composition) that end up in a smoked cigarette end. Willow2's brother had a lucky escape (several times over from the sound of things...what does he do for a living now, Willow2? Professional bungee jumper? Bomb disposal expert?)
How very upsetting for your little lad and thank goodness there was no lasting damage to hair and skin.
Banning smoking in any public space designed for children would be a wonderful idea IMO but how easy would it be to enforce? The last time we tackled someone smoking around children (on a train, where it was banned of course), we were treated to a terrifying verbal assault, and this from what had seemed to be an ordinary, middle-aged woman.
I grew up in a household where there was heavy cigarette smoking (and I am old enough to have a mum who cheerfully smoked 40 a day throughout her pregnancy because the ill-effects were little known then), so I was never even tempted to try it as a teenager.

tiktok Tue 19-Feb-02 09:39:25

Yes - it should be banned where children play, indoors or out. Seems reasonable to me. I have tackled people who smoke in a designated non-smoking area, such as a non-smoking compartment of a train, but the line I use is very apologetic - I smile (not sarcastically) and I say 'I'm really sorry to bother you, but I chose to sit here because I have a strong allergy to cigarette smoke....can I ask you to go somewhere else to smoke?' In fact the truth is I can't claim to be actually allergic to it, but I don't like it (though I am an ex-smoker). I suppose I might not tackle them if I thought I might get punched ; ) but I have asked big blokes who are loud and a bit drunk and they have been ok about it. In a playground, it would be more difficult as there would be no notices about to point to....

bells2 Tue 19-Feb-02 11:07:43

I definitely think it should be banned in children's play areas. I think people are far too careless with lit cigarettes and have also experienced something similar to Tigermoth.

Bugsy Tue 19-Feb-02 12:26:25

Sorry to hear about your son Tigermoth. Totally agree with a ban on smoking in children's play areas. However, it is probably unenforceable. As far as I can tell smoking offers no benefits to anyone connected with it and therefore the less children have to do with it the better.

Babynick Tue 19-Feb-02 12:52:22

There is also the Fire risk in many children's playgounds. At my local country park, their play equipment is surounded by fine wood shavings. In the summer this is very dry... and could easily catch light if a cigarette was dropped.

jodee Tue 19-Feb-02 14:12:02

Glad your son is OK, Tigermoth, how upsetting for both of you and the consequences could have been far worse. I agree with everyone - ban smoking from children's play areas, but who's to enforce it?
I get very annoyed with people's 'couldn't care less' attitude these days; how selfish for people to light up in no smoking carriages on trains, and litter is just tossed to the ground when they are standing 3 feet from a bin.

I think smoking should be banned on train stations too. When I've got off a packed sardine special in the morning at Cannon St people light up straight away; the ceilings are so low and we are edging slowly towards the exits, you get a lungful of second-hand smoke whichever way you turn, it's horrible.

Marina Tue 19-Feb-02 20:24:10

Jodee, I'm another Cannon Street ashtray victim. I am almost sure that because of the low ceiling and office blocks above, smoking is actually banned on its platforms post King's Cross. But catch Olivier Brousse's crack team of smiling revenue inspectors doing anything useful like enforcing that ban...

sylvev Tue 19-Feb-02 20:31:20

I agree. I've never smoked but grew up in a family of heavy smokers. One of my memories of childhood was travelling in a car with windows shut and parents smoking. Yuk. I think smoking should be banned in "child" areas, esp. school playgrounds. This leads me on to one of my pet soap-box rants, pregnant women who smoke. It is all I can do sometimes to stop myself saying something to women who often seem to flaunt their behaviour. I realise there is a physical addiction involved and everyone lives in different circumstances, but it still winds me up!

Tigermoth Wed 20-Feb-02 12:55:30

Well, what a response! Willow2, your brother must have the constitution of an ox.

I agree that banning smoking in children's playgrounds is unenforceable. Think of all those sullen teenagers who hang around the swings on a summers evening, cigarette in hand. Would the average taxpayer fork out for a brigade of 'cigarette police'? I think not.

However I think it would be possible to ban cigarette smoking from child-orinetated events, like the Thomas railway day we attended. There were lots of staff on duty - hey, even the Fat Controller was there!

I am really concerned that the nicotine in a cigarette butt is so poisonous. I had no idea that one could actually kill a child - and this is after 8 years of being a parent. I would really like to know more about this. And if this fact is true, then why hasn't more been made of it? Am I the only one here who didn't know? Thanks to government advertising campaigns and media coverage, I know lots about the dangers of smoking in pregnancy and the harm cigarette smoke can do to all non-smokers. I saw cigarette butts merely as dirty litter. To be honest, I think the woman who burned my toddler was as ignorant of the risks as I. She was so apologetic afterwards. I'm sure many smokers would never light up indoors near a baby, but a would not think to stop themselves when they are near young children outside.

Also, as Babynick points out, the fire risk in playgrounds, especially round wood shavings, must be considerable.

Anyway, my son had a lucky escape with no lasting damage. This time!

Enid Wed 20-Feb-02 13:06:05

I agree with banning smoking too, but I don't actually think eating one butt would necessarily kill. My daughter chewed on one when she was small and I looked up stuff on the net that said there was a chance of toxicity and the most likely response was vomiting. Here's the report FYI:

"A third of the children reported to ingest cigarettes or cigarette butts developed symptoms.

Spontaneous vomiting occurred in 87 percent of children who were symptomatic. Other symptoms included nausea, lethargy, gagging, and a pale or flushed appearance. William Lewander, MD, Medical Director, Rhode Island Poison Center stated, "As a general rule the ingestion of only one cigarette or three cigarette butts could be potentially toxic. Our study indicates that a child’s exposure to these tobacco products increases the risk of ingestion, and potentially toxicity. The findings should be used to develop public health strategies to decrease exposure to these tobacco products and to encourage proper storage and removal of cigarettes and cigarette waste. This could reduce or eliminate the risk of young children ingesting these potential toxic tobacco products."

Tigermoth Wed 20-Feb-02 13:13:31

Many thanks, Enid for digging that out. I'll be emptying ashtrays with much more determination in future.

JanZ Wed 20-Feb-02 15:52:58

Oh! to live somewhere where it might be dry enough in summer for wood shavings to become a fire risk! .... sorry, all this wet, miserable weather is getting to me and last summer wasn't much better!

Seriously though, I also object to when people smoke around or near ds. He doesn't see as much of his (paternal) grandparents as he might, as grandpa smokes, which is sad as they are all missing out. Ds is probably going to embarrass us at a later date by making some comment about "gran and grandpa's house smelling" (- but it is true.....!)

I'd never actually thought about the toxicity of the stubbs - it was the passive smoking element I was concerned with. Something else to be vigilant about when we're out and about! (... although the weather has been so awful at weekends this winter that we've hardly been out!) (oops, back to moaning about the weather!)

Grizzler Wed 20-Feb-02 16:19:28

Aaaargh! It's the cigarette Police. I can't say I'm overkeen myself on other people toking away around my kids, but in an open air environment like a playground, I can't say say I'd be worried too much about the effects of passive smoking. What would concern me more is that I don't think it's a particularly good thing for kids to see on a daily basis (it's not exactly role model behaviour, after all), and the inevitability is that no matter how many ash trays you provide, people always stub their fags out on the ground and leave them there for every rug rat in the vicinity to pick up and chew. So yes, I guess smoking should be banned from kids' play areas.
Incidentally, when we were on holiday in Crete last summer, at a very unspoilt beach resort even, my two-and-a-half-year old entertained himself for hours by unearthing old fag butts from the sand. I don't object to smoking on the beach in the slightest, but why people can't take their butts away with them is beyond me.
And JanZ, I think it's a bit unfair to penalise your parents-in-law and to potentially deprive them from seeing their grandchildren just because one of them smokes. A few hours spent in a slightly smoky atmosphere every few weeks isn't going to do any lasting damage.

JanZ Wed 20-Feb-02 16:46:38

Grizzler - it's my dh's decision, not mine, that we ration how much ds sees his parents. We do take ds over to see them every few weeks or so - but only ever for a cup of tea, as his parents don't really "do" anything with ds and they live in a very small house. He's their 13th or 14th grandchild anyway.

There are other issues too, besides the (extremely) smoky atmosphere. Dh is not keen on his mum having too much to do with ds as he feels she is very much of the old school regarding discipline, ie harsh words and a few smacks never did any of her (5) kids or any of the grandchildren any harm. Dh doesn't want ds exposed to that amount of negativity.

Ds does see much more of my parents: in fact, we'd like him to see more of them, but for the last few months they seem to have spent their time gallivanting around the world on various holidays (to be fair, one was a "duty" holiday to South Africa to visit my Dad's 87 year old mother). Still, they're back from their next set of travels in mid March, supposedly so that they can then enjoy the Scottish spring and summer, so we're going to have a chat with them about how they can enjoy their first grandchild a bit more (and give US some free time too!)

I wasn't actually worried about the passive smoking in open air play grounds - I just meant that I had only ever thought about passive smoking as the specific risk to children. Like you, I'd be more worried about the role model element - although I think that ds will be getting enough negative comments about smoking and its smell for it to be an issue. .... at least until his teens, when he may rebel deliberately (as my brother did!)

Grizzler Wed 20-Feb-02 16:56:21

JanZ - Thought there were probably other issues involved. Sorry for being so glib and provocative. All this talk of cigarettes has got me dying (probably literally) for a fag. I'm an ex-smoker who still dabbles at parties or when I'm drunk enough and am with other people who smoke. The guilt never goes away, though. Every drag I take is accompanied by the thought: "Am I potentially killing myself and depriving my children of a mother?' Where's that sackcloth and ashes?

Batters Wed 20-Feb-02 21:57:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JanZ Thu 21-Feb-02 08:56:15

I was lucky - I never started smoking, so never had the problem of stopping! (Never went through the teenage rebellion stage - just the sulking!)

My dad was/is a radiologist, and his parents had been very heavy smokers (his dad dying of some smoking related disease before I was born), so we were brought up in a very "anti-smoking" household - long before the cigarette police came into being.

To be honest, I just hate (with a passion) the smell of cigarette smoke (bizarrely, I don't mind cigar smoke so much!). Even being close to someone who's been smoking recently and still stinks of it is unpleasant.

But in terms of children - in enclosed spaces I feel strongly that babies should not be exposed to the effects of passive smoking. (I'm not so bothered now about ds being at his paternal grandparents re the smoking as he's now a healthy 17 months and he's never there for any length of time). In open spaces, such as playgrounds, I think it's far more difficult to enforce - although it should be strongly discouraged. "No smoking" signs, perhaps with an additional message "For the sake of the children" might go some way to getting the message across, even if it is unlikely that anyone would ever enforce it.

MadMaz Fri 22-Feb-02 21:32:10

Sorry to play devils advocate but remember us poor smoking mums may not smoke at home, or only do so in the kitchen or whatever, and by the time we hit the fresh air we are in need of our nicotine fix!! I take the point about fag ends. I tend to put mine at the edge of the playground - smokin' at the edges also keeps other kids away from your ciggies - I have never burnt my DD or anyone else for that matter - sorry to hear what happened tigermoth. However on the fag butts problems its also a matter of watching what your kids are picking up, I used to have to follow mine around (that made the smoking for me a problem!!) - what else is on the floor. Personally I think broken glass is more of a problem than ciggy ends in our parks.

WideWebWitch Fri 22-Feb-02 22:48:22

Ok I'll put my hands up and admit to being a (guilty) smoker too. I hadn't thought about it in playparks etc but I will now and will always put my cigarette ends in the bin. Usually put them on the ground I have to admit. I agree that it's not a good example, but I don't think it should be banned in outdoor spaces. Maybe signs reminding people to put their finished cigarettes in the bin would help? Giving up soon anyway - maybe I should start a moral support for giving up smoking thread?

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