New outdoor smokefree spaces will be springing up in Greater Manchester thanks to a series of grants.
The grants aim to help communities tackle the acceptability of smoking in public.
More than £6,000 has already been allocated and applications have now been invited for the second round of funding bids to the Greater Manchester Smokefree Grants Fund, which closes on Friday 28 February 2020.
The fund, totalling £50,000, provides financial support for voluntary, community and social enterprise sector organisations to create smokefree spaces or hold smokefree events.
A range of locally based community support organisations were successful in the first round with plans including a smokefree community garden with murals and artwork discouraging smoking, community outreach events and a smokefree football tournament.
The money will be spent on branded signs, marketing and promotion to ensure staff, volunteers and visitors know a particular space or event has been designated as smokefree.
One of the successful organisations is Infinity Initiatives in Ashton-Under-Lyne, which runs a community café and support centre that helps people with a wide range of services including counselling, bereavement support, a food bank, refugee and asylum seeker support.
Manager Gemma Whittaker said: “We have a small courtyard in front of our premises, which is in a basement, so it’s quite hidden.
“We want to extend our café into the courtyard and put tables and chairs out to help encourage people to visit. We also want to install some artwork and new lighting.
“We want it to be a clean and welcoming space and to discourage people from just hanging around smoking. We hope this will make visiting more enjoyable for our existing users and attract new people to visit us.”
Gemma was among the people who met public health minister Jo Churchill during her visit to Tameside yesterday (13 February) to see a range of initiatives to support a smokefree Greater Manchester.
Making Smoking History is Greater Manchester’s ambitious strategy to cut the number of people smoking by a third, so 115,000 fewer smokers, by 2021.
Figures released over the summer show the region is on track to meet this target with smoking rates at an historic low, following a reduction of 27,000 in just one year. This means that smoking rates are falling twice as fast as the national average (1.3% compared to 0.5%).
This dramatic reduction will pave the way for a tobacco free future for the region.
A consultation carried out in 2018 found that there is public support for this aim with four out of five people saying they wanted to make smoking history and the same proportion agreeing that there is a need for more smokefree spaces to create a healthier region.
In addition, 78% said they were worried about the health harms caused by second hand smoking.
Andrea Crossfield, who leads with the Making Smoking History programme for Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “Smoking is still by far the greatest cause of ill health and early death in Greater Manchester.
“We need to encourage a culture shift away from smoking and reducing the visibility and acceptability of smoking in public spaces will help us go some way to achieving this.
“That’s why new smokefree spaces and events are so important – and they have public backing too.
“The Greater Manchester Smokefree Grants Fund is a great opportunity for community organisations to get involved and play their part in a tobacco free future.”