BOSSES at Clacton Pier have launched an innovative smoking ban to make the pier a healthier place for youngsters and reduce fire risks.

The seafront attraction has become one of the first piers in the country to go smoke free.

Most piers allow smoking because they are open-air areas.

Co-owner Billy Ball said: “The majority of our customers visit the pier as part of a family day out.

“A large proportion of our guests are children and we feel quite strongly that it is only right that we play our part in offering them a healthy environment in which to enjoy their day here at the seaside.

“There are also the fire and safety benefits in adopting the new policy too.

“All too often our nation’s piers have suffered serious - or in some instances - total loss as a result of fire and this is a risk we are keen to mitigate.”

Mr Ball added that the pier will also be able to demonstrate to its insurers that the owners are serious about preserving the pier.

“Any savings that can be secured in terms of reduced premiums enable us to continue to provide a value for money day out and will also help us to continue to invest in more new attractions for our hundreds of thousands of visitors to enjoy,” he added.

The smoking ban came into force at the beginning of August.