Penticton school cracks down on smoking

Pen High principal threatens to suspend Grade 9 students caught smoking, even if they're off school grounds

Life is becoming more difficult for the youngest smokers at Penticton Secondary School.

The school this fall launched a new quit-smoking program, part of which includes principal Alan Stel threatening to suspend Grade 9 students caught smoking, even if they’re off school property.

Such a suspension “might not hold up perfectly well,” Stel told the board of the Okanagan Skaha School District, but it does accomplish the desired goal.

“They are in fact smoking, we know they’re just going farther away,” Stel continued, but, “We want that to be a challenge for them.”

The principal said educators have a moral obligation to help improve students’ lives, and reducing the number of smokers is a good first step because smoking is “just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to issues in our school.”

There are between 75 and 100 identified smokers among his roughly 1,200 students, Stel added.

Youth worker Sylvie Hamel, who is helping with the program, told the board a survey conducted earlier this year found 14 per cent of student smokers said they tried cigarettes before they were 10 years old, while the majority, 27 per cent, first puffed when they were 12.

Student smokers were also invited to meetings arranged by grade where Hamel discussed strategies for making positive life changes and tried to understand the reasons they smoke.

The next set of meetings, in December, will focus on the neurobiology of addiction and why some students are more likely to get hooked on harmful substances than others.

“I want them to have this understanding that some of them are more at risk than others,” Hamel said.

She added that emotional regulation and anxiety were among the reasons commonly given by students when asked why they smoke, so a future session will delve into stress management techniques.

Stel said next year he will tell both Grade 9 and 10 students they are not welcome to smoke near school property, then add Grades 11 and 12 in the following years.

“We’re going to give it four years and invest some time working on this culture of smoking,” he said.

Trustee Shelley Clarke suggested the program also focus on the cost of smoking.


“The money thing is huge for teenagers; they don’t really think about the health effects because they’re invincible,” Clarke said.



Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This now empty restaurant beside the Summerland Waterfront Resort will be turned back to its former glory of Shaughnessy’s Cove. Opening in May. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Summerland waterfront is getting a new restaurant

The now closed Local will be turned back into its former glory of the Shaughnessy’s Cove

Bob MacMillan raises a toast to Robbie Burns at the celebration for the 261st birthday of the Scottish Bard on Saturday, Jan. 18. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Explore Scottish culture with new Penticton television series

The Penticton Scottish Festival’s Exploring Scottish Culture in the Okanagan series debuts Jan. 18

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
115 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths in Interior Health

There are now a total of 4,970 cases in the region

Gorgeous fiery sunset taken from a parking lot on Martin St. on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 at 4:45 p.m. (Brennan Phillips)
January is producing some gorgeous sunsets

Sunsets and warm weather for the start of 2021

Carol Loiselle filed a discrimination and harassment complaint with the B.C. Humans Right Tribunal in 2018 after working at Windward Software Systems, Inc. in Penticton for eight years. (Google maps photo)
Penticton woman wins part of her B.C. Human Rights Tribunal case

Carol Loiselle alleges she faced years of discrimination, harassment at Windward Software Systems

Brett Forsythe battles it out in a game of singles pickleball on ice at Okanagan Training Rink Thursday, Jan. 7 in support of the Vernon Food Bank. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Pickleball play hits the ice in Okanagan

Rivals battle it out in support of the food bank

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials says it will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

City of Salmon Arm Coun. Chad Eliason goes public with the information he went to Mexico over Christmas. (Contributed)
Salmon Arm councillor travels to Mexico over Christmas holiday

Politician says he regrets decision and didn’t consider the ramifications

Letisha Reimer died Nov. 1, 2016 after being stabbed at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
No evidence that killer was in ‘psychotic state’ during Abbotsford school stabbing: Crown

Second day of closing arguments at ‘not criminally responsible’ hearing for Gabriel Klein

Kelowna RCMP precinct. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna Mountie transferred, fined after pointing gun at another officer

Const. Kristine Roesler argued she handled the gun safely and did it in the spirit of ‘dark humour’

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s. (Canadian Press file)
Full parole granted to former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse of boys

Alan Davidson convicted of abusing boys in B.C. and Saskatchewan in late ’70s, early ’90s

Salmon Arm Recreation notified the public of a COVID-19 exposure at the Salmon Arm pool on Jan. 14. (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer)
COVID-19 exposure reported at Salmon Arm pool

Salmon Arm Recreation became aware of the virus exposure on Jan. 13.

The first COVID-19 vaccine arrives in B.C. in temperature-controlled containers, Dec. 13, 2020. (B.C. government)
More vaccine arrives as B.C. struggles with remote COVID-19 cases

Long-term care homes remain focus for public health

Most Read