Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Wales is calling for Welsh Government to ban smoking in beer gardens to protect children's health.

The call follows from March's legislation, banning smoking in school grounds, hospital grounds and playgrounds, as ASH want this ban extended to areas of pubs, bars and restaurants.

Beer gardens are proving to be very popular in Wales, especially in Pembrokeshire, due to a mixture of warm weather, staycationing Brits, Euro 2020 and many other factors.

Children's commissioner for Wales Sally Holland has backed the proposal, along with 63% of the Welsh public, to make children less likely to take up the habit themselves, as well as protecting them from second-hand smoke.

Currently in Wales, around 6,000 children take up smoking every year, and 8% of 15 to 16 year olds smoking regularly – a figure which has not changed since 2013.

Suzanne Cass, CEO of ASH Wales said: “Welsh Government has shown a really strong commitment to tackling smoking prevalence in Wales by becoming the first UK nation to ban smoking in school and hospital grounds and in children’s playgrounds.

“We believe it should now listen to the people of Wales and extend that ban to outdoor seating areas such as beer gardens where young people and families with children gather. This is particularly important in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic when many more people choose to sit outdoors when possible and smokers and non-smokers find themselves sitting alongside each other.

“It is really important to do all we can to ensure children are not exposed to the sight of adults smoking in everyday settings. 81% of adults in Wales were under 18 when they tried their first cigarette. By de-normalising smoking we hope to prevent many more from being caught in the grip of this deadly addiction.”

Sally Holland said: "In order to achieve our collective ambition of a smoke-free Wales, young people should never see smoking as a positive option. Extending the existing regulations to include the outdoor seating areas of pubs, cafes and restaurants would take us another step towards this goal."

Deputy Minister for mental health and wellbeing Lynne Neagle said: “We are committed to our longer-term goal of making more of Wales’ public spaces smoke-free, in helping people to make positive changes to their health and wellbeing and to supporting our aim of a smoke-free Wales.”

Welsh Conservative shadow minister for mental health and wellbeing, James Evans MS, took a different view, commenting: “The hospitality industry has been hit hard over the last 15 months and discouraging people from going to pubs and restaurants during the summer months by banning smoking is not what the industry needs.

“Where possible, outdoor areas should be split between smokers and non-smokers to ensure that everyone is able enjoy themselves.

“But the Welsh Government should be focused on supporting people to quit smoking or moving on to reduce risk products rather than continuing to punish and demonise them.”