Electronic Cigarettes: Health Hazards

Department for Education written question – answered at on 20 October 2023.

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Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that relationships, sex and health education statutory guidance includes a requirement for pupils to be taught about the risks associated with e-cigarettes and vapes.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

On 1 June 2023, the Prime Minister announced steps to prevent pupils getting access to vapes illegally. As part of this, the Department is planning to include a specific reference to the harms of vaping in the amended Relationships, Sex and Health education (RSHE) curriculum.

The RSHE statutory guidance, which sets out the curriculum topics, already states that in primary and secondary school, pupils should be taught the facts about legal and illegal harmful substances and associated risks, including smoking, alcohol use, and drug-taking. To support schools to deliver this content effectively, the Department published a suite of teacher training modules, including on drugs, alcohol and tobacco, which makes specific reference to e-cigarettes (vaping).

In addition, the dangers of drugs, alcohol and tobacco are taught in compulsory health education. This supplements drug education which is part of the National Curriculum for science in Key Stages 2 and 3.

Schools are required by law to have a behaviour policy that sets out what is expected of all pupils, including what items are banned from school premises. This should be communicated to all pupils, parents and school staff.

Schools have the autonomy to decide which items should be banned from their premises, and these can include vapes. Items banned by the school can be searched for as outlined in the department’s Searching, Screening and Confiscation guidance, which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/searching-screening-and-confiscation.

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