Teacher smoking rooms to close in 200 schools

In Education Ministry pilot, these schools are to offer smoking-cessation courses for those who want to kick the habit.

May 27, 2013 03:48
2 minute read.
A MAN smokes in Duesseldorf

Man smoking 370. (photo credit: Ina Fassbender/Reuters)

Starting this fall, 200 schools will open without smoking rooms for the teachers, according to the Education Ministry, which announced the pilot project on Sunday.

In addition, these schools are to offer smoking-cessation courses for those who want to kick the habit.

The ministry called the decision a “revolution” that will bar smoking completely in 200 schools around the country. “It will begin gradually in cooperation with the Education and Health ministries that will teach health education.”

In addition, the Education Ministry said, smoking-cessation courses subsidized by the four health funds will be opened. “The ministries will inculcate among the school staff, pupils and their parents habits for a healthful lifestyle,” the ministry added.

“Prevention is the most effective way to cope with smoking. Its harm to health has been proven beyond all doubt,” Education Ministry director general Dalit Shtauber said.

A steering committee with representatives of the ministries, the local authorities and parents’ committees are to supervise application of the new rules in the pilot project.

Some of the changes will be implemented soon, while others will be introduced gradually.

Asked to comment, lawyer Amos Hausner – chairman of the National Council for the Prevention of Smoking – said the idea of smoke-free schools was certainly a good one, and such a program should have been put in place long ago, but “better late than never. It is sad that the pilot will include in the next school year only 200 schools when in fact there are thousands of educational institutions around the country.”

“At this rate,” he added, “it will take many years to include all schools.”

Hausner said it was unfortunate that only teachers in the pilot-project schools would teach pupils about the dangers of smoking. Although smoking rooms have been barred in all hospitals and medical clinics, the opposition of one of the teachers’ unions two years ago prevented making them illegal in all schools, he said.

“The late MK Gideon Ezra suggested that there will be at least one hour every year in all schools where the risks smoking will be discussed. His request was denied by the then-education minister Gideon Sa’ar,” Hausner said. “The question is whether current Education Minister Rabbi Shai Piron will agree to adopt this measure, which was proposed by Ezra when he was in the last stages of terminal- lung cancer caused by his smoking. It is time that that the Education Ministry take up this initiative immediately.”

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