Last week, Prestonpans Infant School and other East Lothian schools were invited to take part in a new health initiative, The Smoke Free Homes Programme, where children make lealets for their families, asking them to allow them to live in smoke free homes, either by
1. declaring homes completely smoke free and smokers agreeing to smoke outside or
2. smokers agreeing to smoke in a room that children don’t go into.
The reason for the campaign is that children living with smokers are passive smokers themselves because they inhale Second Hand Smoke and that there is conclusive proof that this Second Hand Smoke affects children’s health and leads to these children being more likely to smoke. The campaign is not a Stop Smoking Campaign but asks adults to pledge not to smoke in the room/car when children are there.
I circulated the email to staff and to the Parent Council for their consideration and asked them to reply to all. I’ve since asked if I can publish the responses on the website and so here they are.
“I am all for things like this in schools, my son was taught about the dangers and effects of drugs,drinking and smoking in primary 4 and at that time I was a smoker myself,but to hear your child speak about the effect of smoking and the dangers to his health really hit home and thanks to the primary school teaching this. I have been a non-smoker for 4 years and please feel free to use this as an example”
“If this was as part of a Health Week, then it could be useful and relevant. As a stand-alone project it may well go beyond parental ‘involvement’ and into the realm of ‘interference’ – and may be well ineffective. At the risk of sounding like my 11 year old: What’s the point? This WHO report from 2006 ( www.euro.who.int/document/e88185.pdf ) casts some doubt on whether Health Promoting Schools are effective in improving health and well-being in the long-term.”
A difficult one to balance, but I would argue caution before intervention. If we get too obsessed re the vague Curriculum for Excellence, do children end up attempting to ensure the outcome asked for ? Yes, smoking is one of the many perils our children face. But many other are faced every day. From my view, there are better things for the school team to spend time on! “