The Smokefree School Gates campaign asks people not to smoke at the school gates of primary schools in Wales.
This reduces the pupils exposure to second-hand smoke on their arrival and departure from school and de-normalises smoking in the eyes of children – which will make them far less likely to take up the habit later in life.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become more important than ever to encourage healthy behaviour around children and reduce their exposure to harmful second-hand smoke.
Wales is set to be the first country in the UK to extend its smoking ban to outdoor areas, with smokefree areas expected to be in place in hospital grounds, school grounds and playgrounds in 2020, however this will not extend to school gates.
Wrexham Smokefree School Gates
Wrexham led the way in Wales by becoming the first local authority to introduce smoke free school gates.
The scheme was launched in 2015 and 60 primary schools have implemented Smokefree School Gates.
Alan Williams is the Healthy Schools Officer for Wrexham County Borough Council. He helped to launch the scheme and continues to teach children across the county about the risks of smoking.
There had been particular areas by the school gates that had become a place where parents would congregate to smoke a cigarette and have a chat. Before the signs were put up, children were having to walk through those groups of parents smoking by the gates.
Now, because of the signs, the parents tend to walk away from the gate, it has become self-regulating.
Alan Williams, Healthy Schools Officer
Malpas Court Primary – Newport
Before the introduction of a Smokefree School Gates policy at Malpas Court Primary School, parents would gather from 3pm onwards to smoke before picking up their children.
The school became increasingly worried about the impact the clouds of second-hand smoke would have on the health of staff and pupils.
There was also concern the sight of parents lighting up within clear view of the playground and even some of the classrooms, would normalise smoking in the eyes of children.
“We’re a nurture school as well as a rights respecting school, so this policy fits in perfectly with our ethos.
“Since the introduction of the policy we don’t have that many smokers on the gate so that shows that they are respectful, and they want to keep that as a healthy area for our pupils.
Clare Harvey, Year 4 Teacher and Wellbeing Coordinator