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Saturday, 19 January, 2002, 18:43 GMT
Pupils allowed to smoke at school
Cigarette
The school's "ciggie breaks" will end after half term
Nicotine-addicted pupils at a secondary school are being allowed to smoke as part of an experiment aimed at helping them kick the habit.

Fifteen-year-olds at Christleton High School, on the outskirts of Chester, are being allowed a twice-daily "ciggie break" under the strict supervision of teachers.

The scheme has been introduced by the headteacher Geoff Lawson, who is due to retire in the summer, in a bid to wean the school's hardened smokers off cigarettes.

It is understood that Mr Lawson, 57, decided to tackle the problem head-on after a teacher was verbally abused when she caught pupils smoking in the toilets.


Sometimes the end justifies the means

Geoff Lawson, headmaster

About 36 pupils at Christleton High, which is among the top ten state secondary schools in Cheshire, registered when the scheme was started.

The authorised "ciggie breaks" will be cut to one after two weeks with a total ban on smoking reintroduced after the half-term break.

It is reported that 11 of the pupils involved in the scheme have already given up smoking while those still taking part are being given support and advice including leaflets..

The school, which has 1,240 pupils and was described as "very effective" in a 2000 Ofsted report, has in the past used more conventional methods to deter smoking.

Short-term thing

Mr Lawson, described as one of the most experienced headteachers in the county, said only 15-year-old pupils had signed up to the controversial scheme.

"I am aware that 15-year-olds are not supposed to be in possession of tobacco but sometimes the end justifies the means," he told a newspaper.

A spokesman for Cheshire Education Authority said: "Obviously we don't condone smoking in school.

" However this scheme seems to be a humane and structured response to a problem that refuses to go away.

"In addition, this is an experiment. It is a short-term thing and we will be monitoring the results with interest."

See also:

18 Jan 02 | Health
Anti-smoking drug deaths triple
31 Dec 01 | Health
Adverts target New Year quitters
08 Aug 01 | Health
Drive to cut Asian smoking
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