Alarm to weed out the toilet smokers

22nd January 1999 at 00:00
They can run but they cannot hide. Pupils sneaking off for a quick fag in the toilets at break are about to see their plans disappear in a puff of smoke, writes Nicolas Barnard.

For roughly pound;100 per cubicle, schools can now install a super-sensitive smoke alarm that will set bells ringing in the office every time someone decides to ignore their health education lessons and light up.

"It's the girls who seem to be the worst offenders," says Brent Dunleavey of Radal Technology, the inventors of the (wait for it)Cig-Arrete smoke-detector. "They don't want to smoke out in the open."

Committed wheezers will always congregate behind the bike sheds for a drag. But the Burnley firm says that getting rid of smoking in the toilets can reduce peer pressure on younger pupils, bullied or mocked by older children into taking up the filthy weed.

"Hopefully over a few years, you can filter smoking out of schools," says Brent.

Chesterfield high school in Crosby, Merseyside, has fitted the tamper-proof devices in one set of girls' loos.

Deputy head Fred Cowell said that after going off a few times they had done the trick as a deterrent, and could now be installed in other toilets.

"Girls were smoking as soon as they arrived in school," he said. "It's only a small number but it was disturbing other youngsters who don't want to suffer the effects of passive smoking.

"More girls smoke than boys and for girls it's more of a social activity. Some boys smoke but they go further away - it's more of a game to them and they don't mind a chase. Girls want to get together with their friends."

The alarm filters out other particles in the air - such as dust sent swirling by an opening door - to detect only smoke. It was originally developed for plants such as solvent factories where smoking presented a health risk, and for the growing number of non-smoking offices.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now