BARNSLEY Hospital has become the first site in the country to be surrounded by smoke-free roads in a fresh bid to reduce prevalence across the town.

The hospital currently employs a smoke-free stance for staff members and visitors and, from Wednesday, parts of Pogmoor Road and Gawber Road also became non-smoking zones.

This is a further move towards the goal of ‘making smoking invisible’ across Barnsley, leaders say, which aims to denormalise the habit, particularly around children, so they are less likely to start.

The smoke-free roads initiative is part of a wider scheme in Barnsley, which has already introduced measures at play areas in local parks and a smoke-free zone in Barnsley Pals Centenary Square, outside the town hall, in recent years.

Barnsley Hospital chief executive, Dr Richard Jenkins, said: “By making smoking invisible we can contribute to children and adults not taking up the habit as it reduces smoking being seen as a normal activity.

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“Most people in Barnsley don’t smoke and the numbers that do are falling - less than two in ten people now smoke in the borough.

“One in two smokers die prematurely due to their smoking and while they are in hospital we have support to help them to break their addiction.

“This is about improving people’s health in the same way we are committed to doing across all causes of disease - it is very positive and will save lives.

“The QUIT programme at the hospital recognises that smoking is an addiction that often starts in childhood and needs medical treatment to support people to stop.

“Therefore, making smoking invisible in areas around the hospital and where children frequent is very important.”

The initiative also supports the hospital’s Healthy Lives programme, which focuses on helping hospital staff, visitors and patients to live healthier lives and includes the QUIT stop smoking support service.

Eye-catching signage, which will be displayed across the two roads and on the pavement, has been created by 11-year-old Jasmine Hurdiss.

Jasmine’s artwork promotes the QUIT service and encourages people not to smoke around the hospital.

Coun Jim Andrews, Barnsley Council’s cabinet spokesperson for public health, added: “In 2016, we set out a vision to create several smoke-free zones across our borough, and we want this to be the latest in a long line of successes.

“We hope people will show consideration for others by not smoking in this new smoke-free area.

“Children and young people are influenced by adult behaviour and are less likely to start smoking if they do not view it as a normal part of everyday life.

“By making smoking invisible to children, we hope to vastly reduce the number of children and young people picking up the habit and inspire a smoke-free generation.

“I’d also like to thank Jasmine for her brilliant drawing - I’m sure she’s proud as punch to see it used for the signage.”

* Support for people to stop smoking is available through Yorkshire Smokefree. Visit barnsley.yorkshiresmokefree.nhs.uk to find out more.