Calls have been made to ban the sale of vapes and tobacco products in the vicinity of schools in a bid to “protect young people”.
The step could work towards “educating a nicotine and tobacco-free generation”, according to The World Health Organisation (WHO).
WHO said the “tobacco industry relentlessly targets young people”, with products such as single-use vapes made more affordable.
A new guide by the organisation aims to support schools and teachers in making campuses smoke and nicotine-free via a series of policies.
It calls for a “whole of school” approach, with teachers, staff, students and parents following the measures.
The recommendations include prohibiting the sale of tobacco and nicotine products, such as vapes, near schools.
It comes amid calls in England to ban single-use e-cigarettes following a hike in the number of children and young people using them.
Dr Ruediger Krech, director of health promotion at WHO, said: “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.”
WHO describes the “tobacco epidemic” as “one of the biggest public health challenges the world has ever faced”, claiming illnesses caused by smoking leads to the deaths of eight million people every year.
Other recommendations in the guide suggest a ban on nicotine and tobacco products on school grounds, prohibiting direct and indirect marketing and refusing to engage with the tobacco and nicotine industries.
It has been against the law to smoke inside or in enclosed public spaces in the UK, including schools, since 2007.
A ban on tobacco marketing and advertising has been gradual, with press and billboard adverts outlawed in 2003, along with the sponsorship of sporting events. Large supermarkets were ordered to cover tobacco displays in 2012, followed by all businesses in 2015.
It has been illegal for retailers to sell branded cigarette packs since 2016.
WHO’s guidance follows reports that the Government is poised to ban disposable vapes, which are sold in bright colours with fruity flavours, to tackle the growing use among children.
In May, it also outlined plans to crack down on the illegal sale of e-cigarettes to children by closing a loophole that allowed free samples to be given out without proof of age.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (Ash), said: “We’re ahead of WHO as smoking and vaping in schools has been prohibited here for years, and good educational resources are already being provided to our schools.
“Tobacco promotion is already completely illegal in the UK, an announcement is expected shortly on tougher regulation of e-cigarettes and Ash has urged the Government to implement a comprehensive regulatory approach as they did with tobacco.
“This needs to include banning e-cigarette branding with bright colours, cartoon characters and sweet names which we know appeals to children.
“Most children get their vapes in shops so we also want a ban on advertising and in-store promotion and display in any shop accessible to children and taxes on the cheapest products to stop them being available at pocket money prices, while keeping them cheaper than cigarettes for adult smokers who want to quit.”
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has previously called for a ban on disposable vapes as it warned that “youth vaping is fast becoming an epidemic among children”.
Earlier this year, the NHS announced that 40 children and young people were admitted to hospital in England last year due to “vaping-related disorders” – which could include lung damage or worsening asthma symptoms – up from 11 two years earlier.
Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) earlier this month showed a large increase in vaping among teenagers and young adults in Britain.
In 2022 some 15.5% of 16 to 24-year-olds vaped daily or occasionally, up from 11.1% in 2021.
In 2019 the Government pledged to make England “smokefree” by 2030, meaning just 5% of people would smoke by that time.
Earlier this week, Downing Street did not deny reports that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak could accept a recommendation that would effectively ban cigarettes for the next generation.
If implemented by 2026, it would mean anyone aged 15 and under now would never be able to buy a cigarette.
Published: by Radio NewsHub