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WHO: Ban smoking & vaping in schools to protect young people

Around half of all children around the world are reported to breathe in air polluted by tobacco smoke, and around 51 000 children die each year from illnesses related to second-hand smoke

Vaping pen

Every year, tobacco claims the lives of more than 8 million people globally, equivalent to one person every four seconds, as reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Of these fatalities, over 7 million are attributed to direct tobacco use, while approximately 1.3 million result from non-smokers' exposure to second-hand smoke.

Alarmingly, around half of all children worldwide inhale air polluted by tobacco smoke, resulting in approximately 51,000 children losing their lives each year due to illnesses linked to second-hand smoke.

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In response to this critical issue, WHO has released two publications: 'Freedom from tobacco and nicotine: Guide for schools' and 'Nicotine- and tobacco-free school toolkit.'

These resources have been launched just in time for the back-to-school season across various countries, aiming to safeguard children's health.

The tobacco industry's persistent targeting of young individuals with tobacco and nicotine products has led to an increase in e-cigarette usage, with nine out of ten smokers beginning before the age of 18.

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Moreover, products have become more accessible to young people through the sale of single-use cigarettes and e-cigarettes, which often lack health warnings.

Dr. Ruediger Krech, Director of Health Promotion at WHO, emphasised the need to protect young people from deadly second-hand smoke and harmful emissions from e-cigarettes and advertisements promoting these products.

He highlighted the importance of a comprehensive approach involving teachers, staff, students, parents, and more.

The new guide and toolkit are comprehensive resources designed to help schools create nicotine- and tobacco-free environments.

They encompass topics such as supporting students to quit, conducting educational campaigns, implementing policies, and enforcing them.

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Four key approaches to fostering a nicotine- and tobacco-free setting for young people include:

  1. Banning nicotine and tobacco products on school campuses.
  2. Prohibiting the sale of nicotine and tobacco products near schools.
  3. Banning direct and indirect advertisements and promotions of nicotine and tobacco products near schools.
  4. Rejecting sponsorship or engagement with tobacco and nicotine industries.

The new guide serves as a valuable resource to establish nicotine- and tobacco-free schools, ultimately promoting the health and safety of children.

Such policies help prevent young people from initiating smoking, create a healthier and more productive student body, shield youth from toxic substances in second-hand smoke, reduce cigarette litter, and lower cleaning costs.

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To safeguard public health, the WHO encourages all countries to adopt comprehensive smoke-free regulations in all indoor public spaces, aligning with Article 8 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

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