INTRODUCING a smoking ban on Brighton and Hove’s beaches would destroy the city’s “liberal bohemian image” campaigners warn.

Pro-smoking group Forest spoke out as a city council consultation on proposals to bring in a voluntary ban on beaches and in parks came to an end.

The council received about 1,500 responses to the 12 week consultation and will now begin analysing the findings.

The aim of the proposed ban, which would be voluntary, is to try to create an environment free from second hand smoke, which is particularly dangerous for children.

Youngsters are at higher risk of respiratory infections, asthma, bacterial meningitis and cot death.

A voluntary smoking ban already exists in children’s playgrounds in the city and the proposed consultation was held to gauge whether there is wider public support for extending the smoke free areas.

Smoking is still one of the city’s leading causes of premature death.

Brighton and Hove director of public health, Tom Scanlon, has said tobacco smoke typically contains more than 170 toxins including carcinogens and air pollutants.

He said outdoor tobacco smoke dissipates more quickly than indoor smoke but in certain concentrations and weather conditions it still poses an additional health risk to non-smokers.

In its response to the consultation, Forest said there was no evidence that smoking outside is a health risk to anyone other than the smoker and the inconvenience to non-smokers is minimal.

It said: “Not everyone visits the city for the candy floss and the ‘Kiss Me Quick’ hats.

“Many of us visit Brighton, or used to, because we enjoyed the feeling that here was a city that embraced a diverse range of lifestyles and didn’t judge people.

“Ban smoking in outdoor public spaces and Brighton will destroy any lingering link it has to its proud bohemian tradition.

“Instead it will be seen as one of the most puritanical cities in the UK.”

Forest director Simon Clark said: "Smokers don’t need to be told how to behave around other people.

“The overwhelming majority of smokers know it can be annoying to some non-smokers if they smoke in their immediate presence.”

A report on the consultation is expected to be discussed at the council’s health and wellbeing board in February.