WHO urges ban on smoking and vaping in school to protect youngsters
Morocco, Qatar, Syria, Saudi Arabia praised for smoke-free campuses
The World Health Organization (WHO) on September 26, 2023, released two new publications – ‘Freedom from tobacco and nicotine: guide for schools’ and ‘Nicotine- and tobacco-free school toolkit’ – to help protect children’s health just in time for back-to-school season in many countries.
The tobacco industry relentlessly targets young people with tobacco and nicotine products, resulting in e-cigarette use increasing and nine out of 10 smokers starting before the age of 18, according to WHO.
Products have also been made more affordable for young people by selling single-use cigarettes and e-cigarettes, which typically lack health warnings.
Last month, US regulators warned companies to stop selling illegal e-cigarettes that appeal to youth by resembling school supplies, cartoon characters, and even teddy bears.
“Whether sitting in class, playing games outside or waiting at the school bus stop, we must protect young people from deadly second-hand smoke and toxic e-cigarette emissions as well as ads promoting these products,” said Dr Ruediger Krech, Director of Health Promotion, WHO.
The new guide and toolkit are step-by-step manuals for schools to create nicotine- and tobacco-free campuses, but it takes a ‘whole of school’ approach, including teachers, staff, students, parents, etc.
The guide and toolkit include topics on how to support students to quit, education campaigns, implementing policies and how to enforce them.
The guide highlights four ways to foster a nicotine- and tobacco-free environment for young people:
- banning nicotine and tobacco products on school campuses;
- prohibiting the sale of nicotine and tobacco products near schools;
- banning direct and indirect ads and promotion of nicotine and tobacco products near schools; and
- refusing sponsorship or engagement with tobacco and nicotine industries.
Countries worldwide, including India, Indonesia, Ireland, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Qatar, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Ukraine, were highlighted in the publication as having successfully implemented policies that support tobacco and nicotine-free campuses.
The new WHO guide can help create nicotine- and tobacco-free schools that help keep children healthy and safe.
Nicotine- and tobacco-free policies help to prevent young people from starting to smoke, create a healthier, more productive student body, protect youth from toxic chemicals in second-hand smoke, reduce cigarette litter, and cut cleaning costs, says WHO.
To protect people’s health, WHO encourages all countries to make all indoor public places smoke-free, in line with Article 8 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Featured image: Cigarettes and e-cigarettes typically lack health warnings. Image: Gage Walker