Annie Dressner, a mum-of-one from Cambridge, was inspired to create the petition after an incident with a smoker in her local park.
“Yesterday a woman asked if it would bother me if she smoked in the playground while on the seesaw with her young daughter,” Dressner explained.
“When I said it would bother me, she told me that my one-year-old son would turn out to be ‘arrogant’ and smoke anyway.”
Dressner continued: “Secondhand smoke has around 4000 chemicals, 50 of which cause cancer, and many others which are very dangerous, especially for children and pregnant women.
“Thirdhand smoke is the smoke that is leftover as residue on surfaces.
“If, for example, someone is smoking on a seesaw, the dangerous chemicals from that smoke will then be touched and possibly ingested by the children who will next use that playground equipment.
“Dogs are banned from kids’ parks. Smoke should also be banned in and near them.”
The NHS states secondhand smoke is dangerous for anyone exposed to it, but children are especially vulnerable as they have less well-developed airways, lungs and immune systems.
“Every time a child breathes in secondhand smoke, they breathe in thousands of chemicals, which puts them at risk of serious health conditions, including meningitis and cancer, and respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia,” the website states.
“Babies exposed to secondhand smoke are more at risk of cot death.
“Breathing secondhand smoke increases a child’s or an adult’s risk of lung cancer by 24% and heart disease by 25%.”
Dressner said after the incident in the park, she felt “uncomfortable”.
“It’s not that I feel no-one should smoke in public but it [a play area] is a different type of area that’s for children,” she told Cambridge News.
“I just feel the majority of people with children, even those who smoke, wouldn’t want it in a playground.”
In 2007, a law was passed banning smoking in enclosed public places such as bars and restaurants.
In October 2016, it became illegal for parents to smoke in cars with any children under 18 due to the danger of secondhand smoke.
At the time, Dr Clare Morrison, GP at online doctor MedExpress.co.uk told The Huffington Post UK: “[Passive smoking] increases the risk of meningitis, sudden infant death, asthma, chest infections and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
“In fact, passive smoking also increases the risk of cancer, particularly lung and throat cancer, heart disease, stroke and COPD (chronic pulmonary lung disease).”
The petition, called “Make smoking in and near children’s parks and playgrounds against the law”, had been signed by 452 people at the time of writing.
Dressner aims to receive 10,000 signatures by January 2017.