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Dear Miss Conduct

Dear Miss Conduct,

I am the Head Teacher of a High School. We pride ourselves on our personal, social, health and economic education and have a dedicated program of workshops for students, including classes on the dangers of smoking.

Smoking tobacco and any other substances is obviously banned on school premises. However, several staff have now taken up ‘vaping’ and their use of e-cigarettes on the premises is giving a bad example to students. I have tried to ask them to stop, but they have told me that they are not legally prohibited from vaping on school property.

What can I do?

Dr J. H. Watson

St Trinian’s School for Young Ladies


Dear Dr Watson,

There are a lot of contrasting medical opinions about whether the use of e-cigarettes is damaging to health.

It is correct that the Health Act 2006 only prohibits smoking of tobacco, cigarettes and other products that can be lit and burnt. This does not cover e-cigarettes which involve inhaling vaporised mist containing nicotine.

However, you are entitled to set rules which bind your staff on site, particularly if you are concerned about the example they are setting to impressionable students.

Your ‘No-Smoking’ Policy can be amended so any blanket ban of smoking on site can be extended to include e-cigarettes. The policy should clearly set out the disciplinary consequences of smoking any substance via any device on site. You can also amend your Disciplinary Policy to define all types of smoking or inhalation of substances as a gross misconduct offence.

Staff should be re-issued with the new policy and have the amendments explained to them, either verbally or through a covering letter. As a matter of good practice, you may request them to sign a receipt accepting they have read the policy and understood it. Receipts can be kept on personnel files, and could be referred to in the event disciplinary charges are brought.

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