Welcome to the teachers section of "smoke’s no joke". We aim to arm you with all the information you need to tackle smoking issues in school.

When is a cigarette not a cigarette?

Tobacco cigarettes aren't the only way of experiencing tobacco.


Pipes and cigars

People who smoke pipes and cigars have different health risk profiles to cigarette smokers, but that does not add up to this type of smoking being 'harmless' as is often the misconception.

Whereas cigarette smokers have a 70% higher risk of premature death than non-smokers, pipe/cigar smokers' risk is 10% higher. This is because these types of smokers have a different tobacco habit than cigarette smokers. They tend to smoke far less in terms of both frequency and quantity and tend not to inhale the tobacco smoke. However, the products themselves are still tobacco based and a recent study involving 7,700 men in the UK concluded that pipe and cigar smoking does carry a major risk of smoking related ill health.

Cannabis cigarettes

The drug cannabis has developed considerably over time and in broad terms has doubled in strength every decade since the 1960's.

Of the 7000 individual studies examining the dangers of cannabis, not one has concluded that the drug is safe. Cannabis contains more than 400 chemicals, many of which are common to regular cigarettes, however in cannabis cigarettes these chemicals register in far higher concentrations such as five times as much carbon monoxide and four times the quantity of tar.

Smoking three cannabis cigarettes carries the same health risks as smoking 20 regular cigarettes.

For more information go to www.talktofrank.com

Water pipe

Water pipes

Water pipes (also known as hookahs, narghiles, shisha or hubble-bubble pipes) are gaining popularity in the UK, particularly amongst students and young people who enjoy the novelty and the social aspects of sharing the pipe.

Water pipes consist of a head, body, water bowl and hose. Tobacco, often flavoured with fruits and sugar syrup, is placed in the head and covered with perforated foil. Burning charcoal is placed on top of the foil.

The bowl is filled with water (submerging a tube for the smoke). Sucking on the hose creates a vacuum above the water causing the smoke to pass through the water producing bubbles and the familiar 'hubble-bubble' sound.

There is a common misconception that the water filters out harmful substances in the tobacco smoke before it is inhaled. This is not true and water pipe smoking delivers addictive nicotine in just the same way as a cigarette.

Water pipe users have an increased risk of cancers of the lungs, mouth and bladder compared to non-smokers. It is also associated with cardiovascular disease and respiratory disorders. Smoking water pipes has not been permitted in the work place or in enclosed public spaces since 2007 (Health Act 2006).

Chewing tobacco

Smokeless tobacco

Another form of ingesting tobacco doesn't involve 'smoking' at all.

Chewing tobacco is popular with some ethnic groups. Tobacco is combined with other ingredients to form a packet or quid. Betel pepper leaf used as the wrapping has a mint flavour and is relatively harmless, however the tobacco contained inside is not.

A ready-made mixture known as gutka is marketed in such a way as to be appealing to children so too are bidis, small, thin, unfiltered cigarettes which are cheaper than western style cigarettes and are often flavoured with cardamom, chocolate and strawberry.

Over 90% of oral cancer patients use tobacco either by smoking or chewing.


E-Cigarette also known as vaping was first developed in 2014 in China and came to the UK a few years later.

How do they work?

An e-cigarette is a nicotine delivery system which despite the name, do not burn or contain tobacco but most do contain nicotine; the addictive ingredient in tobacco. An e-cigarette is powered by battery which heats up and vaporises the e-liquid which contains the nicotine and/or fruit flavour. When the user takes a puff a heating coil is activated and subsequently vaporises the liquid creating a mist or vapour that can be inhaled.

Are they safe?

E-cigarettes aren’t completely risk free but carry a small fraction of the risk of smoking and are helping thousands of smokers to quit and stay smokefree.

Second hand smoke

Public Health England state ‘there is no evidence of harm to bystanders from exposure to e-cigarette vapour and the risks to their health are likely to be extremely low’.

Children and Young People

Children and young people’s awareness and experimentation with e-cigarettes is increasing but regular use is rare and most common with those who do or have smoked.

The Law

The legal age to buy an e-cigarette is 18 years. It is against the law to sell to anyone under this age or for an adult to purchase for anyone under 18 years.

ASH briefing on E-cigarettes
Safe use of E_cigarettes

For more information please refer to the Nicotine and Addiction section

For more information please refer to the Health Issues section

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