Guidance for schools for parents and carers on smoking

One of the concerns about carrying out work in relation to smoking is the response from children whose parents smoke, and also from the parent smokers themselves.

Tobacco education can be a sensitive subject, due largely to the life limiting consequences of smoking. It is important that primary age children are provided with the correct information and skills to manage any pressure to take up smoking. Rather than being passive recipients of secondhand smoke, children can use their knowledge to actively resist parental smoking around them.

It is important for teachers to include, whenever and wherever possible, the benefits of stopping smoking as well as discussing the risks. This will provide hope to children who are worried about smokers they know (see the health benefits of stopping smoking worksheet ).

Smokers and their children are used to health promotion campaigns about smoking - they are faced with campaign messages in most media, so may well have discussed this subject as a family already.

We have provided a template letter for schools to send to parents/carers before lessons are taught on this topic. It includes information about the local NHS Stop Smoking Service, Quit4Life, which offers free and friendly help and professional support.

Please ensure that the material you provide to families is up to date by contacting the NHS Stop Smoking Service if necessary. Free online training in Very Brief Advice on Secondhand Smoke is also available here.

Vaping

The popularity of vaping and electronic cigarettes makes it likely that children will have questions and live with family members using them. It is advisable, therefore, to update your knowledge on the most recent guidance on their use. You may wish to read the briefing from ASH and evidence review from Public Health England. Current Public Health England guidance suggests that vaping is significantly safer than smoking and that e-cigarettes can be an effective tool as an aid to stopping smoking.

Smoking in cars

The Smoking in Cars and Other Vehicles Act in 2015 made it illegal to smoke in a private vehicle that is carrying someone under 18 or for the driver not to stop a passenger lighting up. The fixed penalty notice fine for both offences is £50.