NEW smoke-free outdoor spaces are popping across Greater Manchester.

Grants are being offered to help voluntary, community and social enterprise sector organisations create smoke-free spaces or hold tobacco-free events.

The funding aims to tackle the acceptability of smoking together with other people in public.

New applications have been invited for the second round of funding bids to the Greater Manchester Smokefree Grants Fund, with more than £6,000 having already been allocated.

There are almost 400,000 adult smokers in Greater Manchester. Making Smoking History is the city's strategy to cut the number of smokers by a third — 115,000 fewer by 2021.

Andrea Crossfield, who leads with the Making Smoking History programme for Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “Smoking is still by far the greatest cause of ill health and early death in Greater Manchester.

“We need to encourage a culture shift away from smoking and reducing the visibility and acceptability of smoking in public spaces will help us go some way to achieving this.

“That’s why new smokefree spaces and events are so important – and they have public backing too.

“The Greater Manchester Smokefree Grants Fund is a great opportunity for community organisations to get involved and play their part in a tobacco free future.”

Plans are under way for a smoke-free community garden with murals and artwork that discourage smoking, as well as a smoke-free football tournament, following the first round of funding.

The money will be spent on branded signs, marketing and promotion to ensure staff, volunteers and visitors know a particular space or event has been designated as smokefree.

One of the successful organisations is Infinity Initiatives in Ashton-Under-Lyne, which runs a community café and support centre that helps people with a wide range of services including counselling, bereavement support, a food bank, refugee and asylum seeker support.

Manager Gemma Whittaker said: “We have a small courtyard in front of our premises, which is in a basement, so it’s quite hidden.

“We want to extend our café into the courtyard and put tables and chairs out to help encourage people to visit. We also want to install some artwork and new lighting.

“We want it to be a clean and welcoming space and to discourage people from just hanging around smoking. We hope this will make visiting more enjoyable for our existing users and attract new people to visit us.”

Smoking rates are at an historic low across the region, following a reduction of 27,000 people who smoke in just one year. This means that smoking rates in Greater Manchester are falling twice as fast as the national average (1.3 per cent compared to 0.5 per cent).

A consultation carried out in 2018 found that there is public support for a tobacco free future, with four out of five people saying they wanted to make smoking history and the same proportion agreeing that there is a need for more smoke-free spaces to create a healthier region.

In addition, 78 per cent said they were worried about the health harms caused by second hand smoking.

To apply for funding from the Greater Manchester Smokefree Grants Fund, email The deadline for applications is 12 noon on Friday, February 28, 2020.