Tobacco Education in the Primary School: Paradoxes for the Teacher

Jennifer Carol Spratt, J. Shucksmith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Objective The overall aim of the research was to investigate the approaches taken to tobacco education by primary school teachers.

Setting Research was conducted in four diverse areas of Scotland.

Methods Semi-structured interviews and focus groups were conducted with primary 6 and primary 7 teachers. Questions explored the classroom issues perceived by teachers when delivering tobacco education and focused particularly on teachers’ responses to pupils from smoking households.

Results Smoking was presented as a matter of personal choice, with teachers claiming impartiality, but this created a paradox as they attempted to deliver a strong anti-smoking message. Commonly, teachers held outdated views of peer pressure as a coercive force, and strove to develop strategies to withstand or avoid such situations. Few understood the active choices that young people make within their social context. A number of problems were identified in delivering tobacco education to children of smoking parents, which often resulted in these children being subject to a diluted health message. A minority of schools took a more proactive approach which is examined here.

Conclusion Health educators should work with schools to develop teaching methods and materials which realistically appraise the choices young people face. More ‘honest’ approaches which acknowledge the pleasure, need and social significance of smoking would better equip pupils to examine the issues, and would have more relevance for pupils whose parents and siblings smoked.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-13
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Education Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006


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