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Promoting Tobacco-Free Schools

The most effective way for school communities to ensure the best possible outcomes in support of children and youth, is to use a comprehensive approach.  Comprehensive School Health is an internationally recognized framework. The Ontario Ministry of Education supports this comprehensive approach with Foundations for a Healthy School which suggests that schools implement activities under the following five components in order to effectively address a health-related topic, (e.g. tobacco).

Tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of preventable death and disease in Canada. Current research shows that 85% of people who smoke take up the habit before the age of 19 years. In Canada, every 10 minutes, two teenagers will start smoking cigarettes and one of them will lose their life because of it. Tobacco is highly addictive. It's easy to get hooked and hard to quit. Research shows that tobacco use among teens is a predictor of other substance abuse. Educating youth about the dangers of smoking, and helping them to stay smoke free, is critical to their good health.

Curriculum, Teaching and Learning

Offering a wide range of opportunities for students to learn, practice and promote positive and healthy behaviours. Visit our Educators pages for more information, lesson plans, curriculum supports and resources to support classroom teaching related to tobacco:

School and Classroom Leadership

School and classroom leadership focuses on creating a positive classroom and school environment by identifying shared goals and priorities that are responsive to the needs of the school community.

The following are examples of strategies that could assist your school in promoting school and classroom leadership:

Student Engagement

Student engagement refers to the extent to which students identify with and value their learning; feel a sense of belonging at school; and are informed about, engaged with and empowered to participate in and lead academic and non-academic activities.

The following is an example of a strategy that could assist your school in engaging students:

  • Engage students in creating tobacco-free living messages.

Social and Physical Environments

Healthy, safe and caring social and physical environments support learning and contribute to the positive cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development of students.

The following are examples of strategies that could assist you in promoting supportive social and physical environments at your school: 

  • Post Smoke-Free School Grounds Outdoor Signs. Contact the health unit if you require additional information or signs to promote smoke-free grounds at your school.
  • Inform school community of the school board policy that bans all tobacco use and also e-cigarette use (vaping) on school property.
  • Display posters in common areas depicting risks of tobacco use. Create your own or contact the Health Unit for additional resources
  • Offer information and resources for students who want to quit or cut down tobacco use. Contact the health unit for support and resources.
  • Raise awareness about the risks of tobacco use amongst youth, and about community supports for youth and families through: Newsletter inserts, Know What’s in Your Mouth toolkit activities, displays, bulletin boards, school website, etc.

Home, School and Community Partnerships

Home, school and community partnerships engage parents, extended family, school staff, child care and family support programs and community groups in a mutually beneficial way to support, enhance and promote opportunities for learning and well-being. Community partners provide consultation, resources and services to support staff, students, and families. 

The following are examples of strategies that could assist you in promoting home, school and community partnerships at your school.

Have additional questions?

Contact Health Connection:  705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 or email.

Are you concerned about a student and/or would like additional information related to counselling or community supports? Find out where to get help

If you would like assistance in developing an action plan for this topic, contact your SMDHU Healthy Schools public health nurse through Health Connection by calling 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520.

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