In the UK, under-18s are banned from smoking tobacco products. However, that is a rare exception as in most countries there is only an age limit on buying them, which is normally 18.
This means that in Denmark young children as old as 12 can be regularly seen puffing away around the corner from their schools, and it’s perfectly legal.
But one school for 6 to 19-year-olds in Copenhagen, Niels Steensens Gymnasium in Østerbro, has had enough of its young teens – those over 12 can legally leave during breaktime – cluttering up the local streets and completely banned smoking during school hours.
Its students aged 12-16 (6th-9th grade) are prohibited from smoking not only on the school grounds – as is the case with most municipal buildings in Denmark – but everywhere during school hours.
Students are not allowed to smoke from 08:00 to 16:00, even if they go to a park or kiosk to buy food during their lunch break.
The rules came into force in August, and yesterday the school became certified as the first smoking-free school in the Danish capital.
Early prevention intervention
The school’s deputy headteacher regularly checks popular hiding spots, and when he catches someone red-handed, he contacts the parents.
The intervention is part of Copenhagen’s efforts to prevent the uptake of smoking among children and young people.
“The vast majority of parents want to prevent their children from becoming smokers,” the headmaster, Lise Bådsgaard Jepsen, told Metroxpress.
“I think it is very important we take action in the early years. It will rub off on them at school and prevent them from becoming smokers as adults.”
Next year the smoking ban will also apply to students in the 10th grade.