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Discipline and rules

Smoking and vaping

It’s against the law in New Zealand for people under the age of 18 to buy cigarettes and vaping products. There are specific rules about smoking and vaping at school – the rules about vaping are the same as smoking.

What are the rules about smoking and vaping at school?

Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990, s 7A

Smoking and vaping is against school rules and your school must take all reasonable and practical steps to make sure that no one smokes or vapes on school grounds. This applies to students, parents, guardians, staff and any other person visiting the school.

Although it is not a legal requirement, it is likely that the school has a policy (kind of like official guidelines) about smoking and vaping. You can ask for a copy or look on the school’s website.

What will be in a school’s guidelines about smoking and vaping?

Usually, a school’s guidelines or policy will include:

  • an explanation of the law,
  • things that the school is doing to be smokefree and vapefree (like displaying signs and letting people know about the rules),
  • ways the school encourages students not to vape or smoke, and
  • what will happen if someone breaks the rules about vaping and smoking.

For an example of a smokefree and vapefree policy, visit www.vapingfacts.health.nz

What happens if I get caught smoking or vaping at school?

It depends on the rules at your school. The school will probably contact your guardians and might arrange for you have counselling. The school can also stand-down or suspend you. Usually there will be similar outcomes if you are caught selling cigarettes or vape products.

Schools are encouraged by the Health Promotion Agency (set up by the government) to treat smoking and vaping as a health issue rather than a disciplinary issue. For example, this means that if you are seen vaping, the school would arrange for you to learn about the impact of vaping, rather than punishing you with a suspension.

Can I be stood-down or suspended for vaping or smoking at school?

Education and Training Act 2020, s 89(1)

Yes. You can be stood-down or suspended for vaping or smoking. Schools can stand-down or suspend you for “gross misconduct” (serious misbehaviour) or “continual disobedience” (regularly breaking rules) if it is likely to cause harm to others. Some schools will justify a stand-down or suspension for vaping or smoking for one of these reasons.

For example, vaping at school might encourage other students to vape. If you have been warned about vaping at school but have kept doing it, it could be seen as continual disobedience. For more information see “What is serious misconduct?” in the section “Stand-downs, suspensions, and expulsions”

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Discipline and rules

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