School’s smoking policy attacked

Anti-smoking campaigners have hit out at a south Wales special school which allows pupils to smoke during breaks.

Children at Greenhill Special School in Cardiff have been allowed to smoke if they have parental consent.

The school, in Rhiwbina, which caters for children aged 11 to 16 years with emotional and behavioural problems, introduced the policy in a bid to maintain discipline.

But on Thursday anti-smoking pressure group ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) said the plan contradicted government anti-smoking efforts.

They said: “We are absolutely shocked and cannot see the rationale behind this.

“We are surprised that a school would condone such behaviour.

“The decision is one the school could regret. It flies in the face of all government efforts to discourage smoking.”

It is illegal for anyone to sell cigarettes to under-16s, but children can smoke without breaking the law.

Cardiff County Council defended the school, saying Greenhill was a unique case. A no-smoking policy operates in all the city’s other school.

Council officials let the school introduce supervised smoking in the playground to avoid breaches of discipline by the children, who have severe behavioural problems.

The Department of Health conceded the policy was “very unusual.”

The department said: “We encourage all parents to give up if they are smokers and pass on information about the damage smoking does to their children.

“We expect schools to pursue health education, but, at the very last resort, it’s up to the schools.”