Saturday 7 December 2019

Lifting smoking ban would cut terror risk, claim French schools

French students congregate outside a school in Paris. (AP)
French students congregate outside a school in Paris. (AP)

French high schools have said students should be allowed to smoke on school grounds so they do not become targets for extremists when they gather for cigarette breaks on the street outside.

A leading union of school administrators first made the request five days after the November 13 attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead and 350 wounded.

Following a refusal by the country's health ministry, the SNPDEN union last week renewed its call for a loosening of the school smoking ban as long as France remains under a state of emergency.

Around one-third of French teens between the ages of 15 and 19 smoke, according to government statistics.

In its letter dated November 18, the SNPDEN union said: "During each recess, in more than 2,000 schools in France, dozens of youth or even hundreds at the largest establishments form static and compact groups in a predictable way for 15 to 20 minutes."

The health ministry's rejection letter late last year included a reminder that France is currently trying to cut the number of smokers by 10% by 2019, and said "the state of emergency changes nothing" regarding anti-smoking laws.

School directors who are caught permitting students to smoke in the courtyard risk a fine of between 135 euro (£102) and 750 euro (£568).

PA Media

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