PLAY areas owned by Malvern Hills District Council are set to become smoke free.

The council's executive committee this week agreed unanimously to sign up to the Local Government Declaration on Tobacco Control.

The declaration commits the council to carrying out a series of actions to encourage people to give up smoking, to prevent people from taking up the habit and to protect non-smokers.

One of the first actions that the council will take is to introduce a ban on smoking at the seven play areas it owns and manages, following a public consultation.

The play areas are in Priory Park, Malvern, Dean Close and Montgomery Close, Powick, Milestone Road in Upton and Gainsborough Close, Gifford Drive and Blandford Close in Welland.

The ban will be voluntary, rather than enforced, but evidence from elsewhere in the country shows communities are supportive and abide by them.

Research by polling company YouGov, shows there is substantial support amongst smokers for a ban on smoking in children’s play areas with 49 per cent in favour and 30 per cent against.

The Royal Society for Public Health also suggests stopping smokers from lighting up in prominent public places will prevent them from setting a bad example to children.