Two thirds of smokers start before they are 18, and most say they regret having started. Every day in Scotland 36 young people take up smoking – that’s over 13,000 young Scots each year.
We know that there are many different factors which lead young people to smoke, but the extent to which tobacco is prominent, normal or accepted around them plays a crucial part.
Creating a tobacco-free school is an important piece in the jigsaw of support which enables young people to make positive, healthy choices on tobacco. A new guide from ASH Scotland and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde will help your school create a tobacco-free environment.
What is a tobacco-free school?
A tobacco-free school is one where a school looks beyond having a tobacco policy that simply defines where smoking is and is not permitted. A tobacco-free school adopts a whole-school approach to ensuring that:
- all children can play, learn and socialise in places that are free from tobacco
- every child has the right to effective education that equips them to make informed positive choices on tobacco and health
- all young people are protected from the commercial interests which profit from recruiting new smokers
- any young person who smokes is offered accessible support to help them to become tobacco-free.
Creating a tobacco-free school covers both pupils and staff and provides a clear, bureaucracy-free means to express a school’s commitment to the health, well-being and future life of its pupils, teachers and staff.
Where can you get the Tobacco-free schools guide?
The tobacco-free schools guide can be downloaded free from the ASH Scotland website.
The guide provides:
- background information on young people and smoking in Scotland, setting out the case for a whole-school approach to tobacco
- review of how tobacco links to Curriculum for Excellence and Getting it Right for Every Child
- guidance on including electronic cigarettes into the school’s approach
- case studies of how some schools are already addressing tobacco
- useful contacts and resources
- a step by step guide to setting up your own tobacco policy and being awarded tobacco-free school status
Branding, accreditation and recognition
It is important to make sure that a tobacco-free school is clearly branded, recognised and acknowledged by pupils, teachers, staff and visitors.
ASH Scotland has developed a ‘Tobacco-Free School’ logo that can be used on signs, posters, websites and school literature.
The key to being accredited with tobacco-free school status is to follow the policy process outlined in the guide. Schools which can demonstrate this process are acknowledged as tobacco-free schools and are eligible to display the tobacco-free schools logo. There is no further bureaucracy and no charge.