Measure to stop pupils gathering outside schools is illegal, a court finds
French schools must stop allowing pupils to smoke in the playground, a court has found, overturning a security measure many schools adopted since terror attacks in Paris last November.
Earlier this year, many schools decided to allow smoking on school grounds to prevent pupils crowding on the pavements outside to smoke between classes – over fears it could make them the target of terrorist attacks.
This was despite it being illegal to smoke before the age of 18.
The Paul Lapie high school in Courbevoie, a northwestern suburb of Paris, is one of three taken to court by anti-smoking groups, who contested the decision to allow teenagers to smoke in schools – a decade after the practice was banned.
Last Thursday, an administrative court said the school’s principal must “ensure the respect of public health laws banning smoking in school establishments”, local reports say.
Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem has said she would ensure the ban is applied in all schools.
She said the authorisation to light up inside school grounds had been an “exceptional” measure, and that students would once again have to leave the premises to smoke.
Under the state of emergency imposed after the attacks, a circular signed by both the education ministry and interior ministry was sent to schools urging them to avoid having pupils gather outside their premises.
Some schools then sent out letters to parents about new dedicated smoking areas, even specifying that ashtrays would be provided.
But parents and anti-smoking groups complained and challenged the decision in the courts.