SIGNS are being placed throughout Crewe in a bid to discourage people from smoking in children’s play areas.

The town’s playgrounds will be among 170 throughout Cheshire East in which notices designed by children will request kids be allowed to ‘Play Smokefree’.

Park wardens will also discourage people from lighting up, under new measures hoped to reduce the number of young smokers in the borough.

Clr Janet Clowes, Cheshire East Council (CEC) cabinet member in charge of health and adult social care, said: “Children learn their behaviour from adults. If children see smoking as a normal part of everyday life they are more likely to become smokers themselves.

“I think that, knowing this, most adults would agree that not lighting up in a children’s play area is not too much of a sacrifice and I hope residents will support this initiative.”

A survey of the borough’s residents - 22.2 per cent of who were smokers - revealed 97.5 per cent support for the scheme.

The code has been developed by health charity, Heart of Mersey, CEC, Central and Eastern Cheshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) and the Cheshire and Merseyside Tobacco Alliance.

Jo McCullagh, tobacco control programme lead at Heart of Mersey, said: “Three out of four children are aware of cigarettes before they reach the age of five.

“People smoking in children’s play areas is a fairly common sight, but it suggests to children that smoking is a harmless, acceptable, everyday activity. The reality is that this is a habit that is addictive and kills.

“A child who smokes just one cigarette doubles their chances of becoming a regular smoker by the age of 17.”