Overview of project: To introduce Swindon Bus Station as a smokefree zone with a dedicated smoking area.

How was the need for this project identified?

Project was initially suggested in 2012 in response to complaints from the public but was not passed by Cabinet.

2016 provided a changed climate in attitudes towards tobacco control and Public Health, with a new council Vision and Pledge to reduce smoking prevalence in Swindon to below the England average.

Please give an overview of the project’s benefits, and the aspects of public health it addresses.

The benefits of a smokefree bus station would be to:

  • protect the health of the public (particularly those with asthma and breathing difficulties)
  • reduce the influence on children and young people in taking up smoking seen as a social norm
  • improve the environment and reduce air pollution
  • improve the appearance of the bus station (less litter)
  • improve perception of Swindon for visitors using public transport as a gateway to Swindon
  • reduce conflict between smokers and non-smokers
  • prepare service users for the new planned bus station being smokefree

What was the biggest challenge faced by your project? How was this overcome?

Initial rejection at Cabinet level due to Council concerns over reputation as not legally enforceable therefore despite public support the initiative was not passed in 2012.

What advice would you give to a team managing a similar project?

Prior to implementation:

  • Identify if there is anything else in existence which might including restrictions on smoking – e.g. Public Spaces Protection Order
  • Establish steering group.
  • Engage all stakeholders – Lead Member, Director of Public Health, council partners –e.g enviromcrime, street cleaning and highways and transport, land owners, companies and retail outlets based at the bus station, other transport companies, service users.
  • Public consultation via survey of service users.
  • Identify funding for signage and consider location of bins to encourage and support behaviour change.
  • Decide if going to offer a dedicated smoking area or be entirely smokefree.
  • Undertake site visits and review current layout, litter bin provision etc.
  • Don’t forget to offer support to bus drivers who smoke prior to implementation.

During / Post implementation:

  • Engage support of Environmental Enforcement Team to offer advice and guidance during first two weeks after implementation.
  • Provide a range of communication channels to raise awareness e.g. press release, signage, floor paint signs, posters, digital and audio systems on buses, You Tube video via twitter, Newsletters etc.
  • Use bus company communication channels as well as council comms.
  • Consider linking to Stoptober or similar S/F campaign for launch date to support users of the bus station
  • Monitor feedback.
  • Repeat public consultation survey.

What’s next for this project?

Respond and act on the recommendations in the summary report of the post implementation questionnaire.

Continue to record any complaints on Lagan – our internal complaint system.

Continue to support the higher level of smokers who use the bus station by promoting and advertising the support offered by Swindon Stop Smoking Service.

Put forward recommendations which may be useful when designing Swindon’s new bus station.

Have you had any feedback (e.g. from colleagues, third-sector partners, members of the public)?

A survey was undertaken as public consultation in 2012 following complaints from users of the bus station to identify if there was public support for a smokefree initiative. This indicated there was 75 % support for such an initiative.

Stakeholders including bus drivers and retail outlet staff at the bus station have provided feedback.

A post implementation consultation was also undertaken with the public in January 2017 to monitor attitudes and behaviour after the introduction of a smokefree zone. 125 people took part in this consultation of which 32 were smokers and 93 were non-smokers. 13 were vapers of which 7 were dual users.

The survey identified 90% of smokers who participated in the consultation said they either used the dedicated smoking area or refrained from smoking in the smokefree zone. Only just over 50% of participants were aware that the bus station was a smokefree zone and whilst 81% said it had made a difference some felt there was a need for more signage and there was a concern that there were still people smoking in the smokefree zone.

9 recommendations and actions were made in response to the public consultation:

  1. Increase signage around the bins in the central area of the bus station
  2. Consider additional signage at each Bay which may empower bus station users to ask smokers to use the dedicated smoking area
  3. Ensure continued use of signage and promotion of the smokefree bus station on buses using the bus station
  4. Review the locations of the bins to encourage and support compliance
  5. Inform the Environmental team of any changes in where litter needs collecting i.e. by smokefree zone boundaries
  6. Continue to record complaints on Lagan
  7. Ensure learning is carried forward for consideration when designing the new Swindon bus station and any other smokefree sites.
  8. Continue to support the high percentage of smokers who use the bus station to quit by advertising and promoting the support offered by Swindon Stop Smoking Service via the bus station
  9. Feedback to the relevant departments any general comments that may be raised as part of the public consultation.

Which aspect of this project makes you most proud?

It has been a collaborative partnership project, engagement of the bus companies and feedback from service users – 81% surveyed advised that it had made a difference.

How can your public health colleagues get more information about this project?

Contact Chris Woodward, Public Health Programme Manager – via email or phone 01793 444678.

Is there anything else about this project you would like to share with your colleagues across AGW?

One of the key things to consider when working in a local authority is the political environment in which we are working.

If at first you don’t succeed try again!