British school's policy of allowing 11-year-old students cigarettes goes up in smoke

Public outcry about Elmete Central School's smoking situation leads to policy change.
Posted By Evan Bleier   |   Oct. 18, 2013 at 12:47 PM   |   Comments

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(UPI) -- Schoolchildren aged 11 to 16 are no longer allowed to smoke at Elmete Central School in Roundhay, Leeds, after the school was criticized for permitting pupils to puff cigarettes.

Students had their cigarettes confiscated at the beginning of the day but then would get them returned during breaks and lunchtimes so they could smoke. The school deals with youths who have educational and behavioral issues and it is believed that permitting smoking on the premises was an attempt to stop students from going truant.

“We take this issue very seriously and as soon as it was brought to our attention, we spoke to the school and issued an instruction that it must stop immediately,” said Paul Brennan, the deputy director for children’s services. “We are confident this practice has now ceased.”

He added:

“The recently-appointed headteacher has agreed to review any such practices, and to make sure this does not happen in the future we will conduct unannounced visits by local authority staff. We have a strict no-smoking policy in all of our schools and encourage them to promote healthy lifestyles to all pupils.”

According to the school’s website: “All staff, including support staff work to remove barriers to learning, and support the pastoral needs of learners.”

The chief executive of UK anti-smoking health charity ASH, Deborah Arnott, said: “Allowing children to smoke at school is wrong in so many ways. It is illegal to sell tobacco to young people under the age of 18 precisely because tobacco is so hazardous to health and wellbeing. It is totally inappropriate and unethical to allow children to smoke in a school environment. The school wouldn’t allow children to drink.”

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