17/10/2013 12:14 BST | Updated 18/10/2013 04:31 BST

Elmete Central School, Leeds, Allows Children As Young As 11 To Smoke In Playground

Elmete Central School, Leeds, Allows Children As Young As 11 To Smoke In Playground

A school in Leeds has been blasted as "unethical" for allowing children as young as 11 to smoke in the playground.

Elmete Central School in Roundhay allowed its students to smoke during break times, as students previously missed school to light up, the Yorkshire Evening Post reported.

Paul Brennan, deputy director for children’s services, at Leeds City Council said: “We take this issue very seriously and as soon as it was brought to our attention we issued an instruction that it must stop immediately.

“We are confident that this practice has now ceased. The recently-appointed headteacher has agreed to review any such practices and to make sure this does not happen in the future we will conduct unannounced visits.

"We have a strict no smoking policy in all our schools and encourage them to promote healthy lifestyles to all pupils.”

It is understood cigarettes were confiscated at the beginning of the school day but given back to pupils during break time.

Deborah Arnott, from anti-smoking charity ASH, told The Huffington Post UK: Amanda Sandford, Research Manager for the health charity ASH, commented:

“This is a difficult situation but schools need to be concerned about the physical health of their children as well as their mental health. They wouldn’t allow children to drink so why are they allowing them to smoke? Starting smoking at a young age increases the risk of life-long addiction, exacerbates many health problems such as asthma and diabetes and brings about premature death from lung cancer and other smoking-induced diseases."

She added: “This is wrong in so many ways. It’s illegal to sell tobacco to under 18s because it is so hazardous to health. It’s totally inappropriate and unethical."