TEACHERS should give up smoking at school to set a good example to pupils and help cut the growing number of teenagers who light up, says the Health Education Authority.
New research reveals that 63 per cent of English schools allow smoking somewhere on the premises. Pupils visiting one in 10 staffrooms could spy their teachers smoking and independent schools are much more likely than state schools to allow teachers to indulge.
Steve Woodward, the HEA's smoking programme manager, said: "Teachers need to advise children about the dangers of smoking. But they must also set a good example by not allowing smoking on the premises."
Professor Robert West and Dr Jonathan Foulds, authors of the authority's new manual on smoking policies, say that, as educational and community centres, a school's stance on smoking can send out an important message that extends beyond its walls.
But is seems that schools may actually increase use of the weed rather than stub it out. Smokers on the staff at Crown Woods secondary school in Eltham, south-east London, said they got through far fewer cigarettes during breaks from school. Eugenie Woodward said: "I always manage to give up smoking in holiday time."
Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "You would expect more teachers to be smokers, with all the stress and workload they have to put up with. Indeed, you'd think they'd want to set up bars in the staffroom."