Smoking is the main cause of preventable illness and premature death in Britain. Although smoking amongst young people has been falling steadily, it still presents a significant threat to health.
Schools have an important role to play in providing effective drug education, including about tobacco, and supporting those who want to stop smoking.
It is important to teach children and young people about the health risks associated with tobacco use, although knowledge alone is not enough to prevent the uptake of smoking. Some common approaches to tobacco education may have the unintended consequence of enhacing risk factors for starting smoking; these include approaches designed to create fear or disgust such as a focus on graphic photographs of smokers lungs. Drug education and public health messages need to be designed with care or they risk being effective only with those who were at low risk of smoking to start with.
Drug education can reduce levels of smoking among young people if it is interactive and focussed on young people's skills, attitudes and values, including correcting young people's overestimates of smoking prevalence. A use of social norms can help to reduce smoking prevalence in young people.
Sample school policy
A suggested template that can be used to develop a school policy that covers smoking and vaping.
Smokefree policy template (updated June 2023)
Information about vaping can be found here
Teaching about smoking and vaping
New educational resources on teaching about smoking and vaping can be found here.
Support to quit
It is important that smokers and vapers have easy access to accurate information and support to help them quit.
It can be very hard to give up by willpower alone. Using stop smoking medicines can increase chances of success. As these are available on prescription, they'll be free for 12- to 18-year-olds.
For information and support around smoking or vaping and how to stop please contact the Health Improvement Hub via 0300 003 4566 (option 1) or email@example.com . This service is available for anyone. Children and young people can refer themselves or be referred by someone else with consent from the young person. If the young person would prefer, they could ask for support from their GP surgery.
Support for Wiltshire schools