A new report has recommended banning smoking in parks and public spaces such as Trafalgar and Parliament Squares in a bid to boost public health within a decade.
The report is the work of the London Health Commission, set up by Mayor Boris Johnson to consider ways to improve health in the city and is chaired by internationally renowned surgeon and Labour Peer Lord Darzi.
Mayor Johnson could implement the smoking ban by introducing by-laws covering the use of the squares and through his influence as the appointer of the Royal Parks board which controls some of London’s biggest green spaces.
London’s local councils could also pass by-laws banning smoking in their parks and other public spaces.
In addition to the smoking ban, today’s report recommends introducing discounts for Oyster card users who walk part of the way to work.
A similar idea has already been put forward by the Conservative group on the London Assembly as part of its proposals to tackling overcrowding on peak hour public transport and reward home working.
Other measures suggested by Lord Darzi include a ban on junk food shops near schools and introducing traffic light labelling on menus at restaurant chains.
Publishing his report, Lord Darzi said: “More than a million Londoners still smoke, and there is significant harm from problem drinking. Too many children get off to too poor a start in life. We can do better: the healthiest choice isn’t always easy and isn’t always obvious.”
Commenting on the report, Professor Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, said she welcomed “any measures to reduce both active smoking and its role modelling in front of children.”
The report has also won the backing of former public health minister and potential Labour Mayoral candidate Dame Tessa Jowell who called on Mayor Johnson to implement the proposed smoking ban “in full”.
She commented: “We need to make the healthier choice the easier choice for Londoners. The Mayor has a proposal sitting at his feet which could mark the start of a serious public health crusade in the next decade in London.
“As Lord Darzi’s report states, every week two classrooms of London children take up smoking. Every year, 8,400 Londoners die from smoking – the number one cause of preventable deaths in our capital city.
“He must seize this opportunity to build a coalition of support across our city to tackle London’s shocking health inequalities.”