Smoking At School
First up, let's make it clear that smoking is not big and it's not clever.
Starting smoking is often the first thing people will say they wish they had never started. Smoking is very expensive, terrible for your health, dreadful for your looks and is becoming more and more socially unacceptable.
How to be Cool at School
There are plenty of other things you can do to be cool at school - take the lead in a play, be good at football, learn the guitar - but smoking is a habit with no benefits in the long term.
There will always be a little group of secret smokers that find the bench, hut or corner the teachers can't see. If you're not one of them, you may see them occasionally and think they look cool, grown up and individual. (You may also think they look sad and smelly, if so, well done!)
If you are one of them, you may love your current hip-smoker status and be looking for ways to conceal your habit from parents and teachers, or you may be keen to stop and move away from the group. We will cover both in this article, on the understanding that smoking is a foolish, dangerous habit that you will regret ever starting not too long from now.
If you are under sixteen, then it is illegal to buy cigarettes. If you are over sixteen, while you are entitled to buy cigarettes, many schools are now official 'smoke free' environments.
Following on from UK legislation for public places to go smoke free from 1st July 2007, a number of schools and county councils have ruled that their property, including grounds and vehicles, must not be smoked in, including all teachers and staff.
Being One of the Secret Smokers
So, judgement aside, you are smoking at school and don't want to get in trouble for it. Firstly, check for smoke alarms in the toilets. It's a classic place for a sneaky fag, but you will have shame on so many levels if the alarm goes off, you are carted out of the loos and your parents are informed, all in one fell swoop. Most school facilities do have smoke alarms, so let's think again. Another classic 'deviant' hangout is the bike sheds - perhaps less evident in many schools nowadays. If your school has a bike shed, play the sleuth and work out which classroom or office windows you can be seen from.
Do not convince yourself that a polo mint and squirt of Impulse will mean no one can tell you have been smoking. They will know - every time. It's just whether you get a lecture or not.
What about if you have started smoking at school and can see the error of your ways. You feel like you are hanging out with people that aren't good for you and know that smoking is a grubby, costly downward spiral. Firstly, well done you. It is really hard to do the right thing sometimes, especially if you might get teased or singled out for it. You could start by saying you want to give up smoking - don't make a judgement on them smoking, just say you can't afford it or you've got a sore throat. If you start saying it is because of the health risks and the illegalities of the situation, you will look like a prize creep.
Next, you can try walking a different way to school or classes, to try to break your habits if you are finding it hard to stop and so you don't bump into your old smoking buddies.
You may want to confess to your parents and ask for their help - say you know it was stupid and that you are desperate for it not to be an adult habit you get into. If talking to your parents is the last thing you want to do, maybe an approachable teacher or friend's parent could give you some moral support.