A mum is fuming after a school confiscated her 14 year-old son’s e-cigarette – saying he needs it to kick his TEN-a-day habit.
Teachers took the device off Mason Dunn when they found him ‘vaping’ on school premises.
His mum Sue marched to the school in protest but they have refused to back down.
Sue, 42, a single mum, said: “He came home from school in a terrible state, because he needed nicotine. We have tried to wean him off the e-cigarettes as well, but it is helping.
“I went into school and explained the situation but was told it is against the school policy.
“If it helps to prevent people from developing cancer at a later stage, I think it should be allowed.”
Sue, a van driver from Stoneclough, Gtr Mancs., said Mason started smoking at the age of 12 following the death of his father.
She found out a year later and said it was a family decision to buy him an e-cigarette in the hope it would help him cut down and eventually quit.
She said: “I am not happy about the fact that he smokes in the first place, but we have tried everything to help him stop.
“We’ve tried patches and been to the doctor, but nothing worked, so my eldest son bought him an e-cigarette and it has helped him stop smoking cigarettes.
“He has really made an effort.”
They refused Sue’s plea to let him use the device at school – even if not in open view or in front of younger children.
The school said it had a duty of care to discourage children from smoking, and that staff have met with Mason and his mother to support them.
He has also been referred to the school nurse on several occasions.
Sue claimed that Mason had not had a single cigarette since he started using e-cigs at the start of the summer holidays.
But she said that since going back to school he is back on normal cigarettes again, despite having the e-cigarette returned to him.
Mason said: “It feels like the school don’t want me to stop smoking.
“It is really irritating because they shout at me when I have got a cigarette and tell me to stop and then when I try to quit, they tell me to stop doing that as well.
“It is really hard and I don’t know what to do next.”
It will become illegal for retailers to sell electronic cigarettes and e-liquids to people under the age of 18 from October 1.
Battery powered e-cigarettes are an alternative way of consuming nicotine, without inhaling harmful chemicals such as tar and carbon monoxide.
The e-cigarette converts liquid nicotine into a mist which the smoker inhales.
A recent report on behalf of Public Health England concluded that they are 95 per cent less harmful than tobacco, and that they could be prescribed on the NHS in future to help smokers quit.
However, concerns have been raised about the possible inconsistencies of quality in e-cigarettes, and whether they are completely safe.
Suzanne Pountain, principal of the school, said: “Kearsley Academy is a no-smoking site. We have a duty of care to our students to reinforce this and discourage them from doing so.
“As a healthy school we encourage students to lead healthy lifestyles and to make healthy choices.
“We offer students access to the school nurse and if necessary pathways such as the smoke cessation programme, if this is needed.
“We will continue to work with and support Mason within the guidelines of our policy.
“For the safeguarding of all our students, smoking, including the use of any nicotine inhalation devices are not allowed.”
Sue admits she was surprised to find Mason had started smoking after he bugged her to quit her own 20-a-day habit.
She said: “We discussed it quite a bit when he started trying to get me to stop smoking.
“He would complain that his clothes smelled of smoke so I’d go outside to have a fag.
“I’ve tried and tried and tried to quit smoking but I just can’t.
“So I was surprised when I found out he was smoking, I asked him what on earth he was doing.”
Sue, who is also mum to Bradley, 21, and Alyssa, ten, said there was a history of drug addiction in the family – leaving her fearing for her son’s wellbeing.
She added: “I always told him ‘Don’t start smoking because you’ve got the addiction gene’.
“That’s why I wanted to give him all the help I could, and although e-cigarettes aren’t the best thing for you, it’s a lot better to be using that than having a real cigarette.
“You’ll always find teenagers smoking so I think good on him for stepping away and using an e-cigarette instead.
“He’s not had a cigarette all summer and now the school’s just pushing him backwards.”
Mason, who started smoking in year seven and is now in year nine, said: “I think it’s bang out of order that they won’t let me use my e-cigarette at school.
“Me vaping isn’t harming anyone but I’m an addict so I need it.
“I come home angry and in a state if I can’t have it and that’s not going to help me get on at school.”
Sue has challenged the school’s response to Mason’s situation and is questioning why a school nurse prescribed him nicorette inhalers when their policy is not to allow them.
She added: “They’re trying to get Mason to stick to the rules when they’re not going by the rules they make up.”