Walsall schools are set to stub out any smoking near their premises, as part of a recently launched Black Country wide school campaign called ‘SmokeFree at the school gates.’ The campaign recently launched on 21 January and is supported by Public Health and the Black Country Tobacco Control Alliance. Together they have developed a toolkit and signage so schools in Walsall, Wolverhampton, Sandwell, and Dudley so they can create SmokeFree zones of their own.
Whilst school grounds have been smoke-free for some time, committing to the new pledge will mean ‘close to’ areas like school gates and entrances are now ‘SmokeFree’, too. The new school policy and its ongoing promotion will raise awareness of the health dangers of tobacco with an emphasis on making smoking appear ‘less normal’ to children. Therefore schools will ask parents and visitors not to light up anywhere near their premises, so children and passers-by are protected from second-hand tobacco smoke. Hundreds of schools across the Black Country and in Walsall have committed to signing-up to better help protect the health of children and their communities with this number set to rise for throughout the campaign. Birchills Church of England Community School in Walsall has already given its pledge to support the campaign with staff and pupils spreading the news through clear signage at their school gates.
Head teacher of Birchills C of E Community Academy said: “Birchills is very proud to be the first school in the borough to lead on this campaign and support ‘Smokefree at the School gates’. Investing time in learning about healthy choices, lifestyles and environmental awareness is very important to us.”
Councillor Chris Towe, Portfolio Holder for Education at Walsall Council said “’SmokeFree at the school gates’ in the Black Country and Walsall encourages parents and visitors not to smoke anywhere around a school environment. Seeing people smoke, especially at the beginning and closing of a school day and near to an educational environment can send out subliminal messages to children that tobacco is not that harmful — it absolutely is.
Councillor Tim Wilson Portfolio Holder for Public Health added:
“This is a great example of Black Country partnership which will benefit children.
“Most people already choose not to smoke at the school gates, but for those that still do, it’s essential to reinforce this message that children and young people should be protected from the effects of tobacco and second-hand smoke. There are no safe levels of cigarette smoke. We don’t want anyone to have to walk through cigarette smoke on their journey into or out of our schools.”
PHOTO: Public Health Walsall, school teachers and pupils get behind new Black Country campaign
Notes to editors
- The new school SmokeFree policy is supported by The Black Country Tobacco Control Alliance.
- It will increase awareness of the health dangers of tobacco with an emphasis on making smoking appear ‘less normal’ to children.
- Schools will be receiving the toolkit and signage over the coming days.
- The toolkit equips schools with the information they need to adopt or update current SmokeFree policies, and is also designed to be used to support the Personal Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE) curriculum as part of a whole school approach to smoking.
- Smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and illness in the UK and is responsible for over 78,000 deaths per year, with 40% of smokers starting before the age of 16 years.
- Early smokers also twice as likely to continue to smoke compared to those who begin later in life.
- Preventative education is key.