A campaign group has criticised suggestions that Waltham Forest council would consider introducing a ban on smoking in all parks in the borough.

Cllr Clyde Loakes, cabinet member for environment for Waltham Forest council, said this week a ban was “certainly an option” the council would explore.

Last week, the London Health Commission called for London’s parks to be smoke-free to improve public health and Boris Johnson said local authorities would be able to implement it as a bye-law.

Simon Clark, director of the pro-smoking campaign group, Forest, completely rejected the idea.

He said: "There's no justification for banning smoking in parks.

"The public smoking ban was introduced to protect bar workers from long-term exposure to tobacco smoke.

"There's no risk to non-smokers if someone lights a cigarette in the open air. If you don't like the smell, walk away. You'll find that 99.9 per cent of the park is smoke free.

"Tobacco is a legal product. Smokers must be allowed to light up somewhere. 

"Adults shouldn't have to be role models for other people's children. Should the council ban obese people from parks as well?

"It's easy to ban things you don't like but teaching children about individual freedom and personal responsibility would create a nicer, fairer, more tolerant society."

Users of Langthorne Park, in Birch Grove, Leyton, had a mixed reaction to whether the council should introduce the ban.

Kirsty Brown, of Melon Road, Leyton, was completely in favour of a full ban on smoking in parks.

The 28-year-old said: “It is horrible to walk through the park sometimes because big groups of people sit smoking together and it is not nice.

“Tonnes of kids run around the park and it is a really poor example to allow people to smoke there.”

However, Sandy Calsy, of Corn Way, Leytonstone, rejected it.

The 58-year-old said: “It is silly and just would not work, it would be like asking alcoholics to stop drinking, no one will listen.

“I understand it will help make people healthier and help them cut down on smoking but the park should be a place where people are free.”