Smoking and Alcohol


1. Smoking
  1.1 E-cigarettes/Vapes
2. Alcohol

1. Smoking

The home should ensure that children are provided with advice and support as necessary on good health. This information should supplement that provided by any educational setting, and should cover smoking and alcohol.

It is an offence for shops to sell cigarettes and tobacco product to under 18s or for an adult to cigarettes or tobacco products for them.

Some children may already smoke when they are placed in the home. You should support and encourage such young people to reduce or stop smoking. Support is available from the Looked After Children’s Nurse or the young person’s GP. This should be discussed with the child/young person’s social worker and addressed as part of the young person’s Health Plan.

Staff are not permitted to purchase or give cigarettes / e-cigarettes, tobacco, or the materials for making or lighting cigarettes or tobacco to children.

Staff and visitors are not permitted to smoke in front of children. Homes may designate an area where staff may smoke.

1.1 E-cigarettes/Vapes

”The use of  e-cigarettes among young people is rare and is almost entirely confined to those young people who  already smoke”.

See Public Health England - Independent Expert E-cigarettes Evidence Review.

It is an offence for shops to sell e-cigarettes to under 18s or for an adult to buy e-cigarettes for them.

The long term effects of vaping / E-cigarettes on health are unknown, but current research indicates that their use is significantly less harmful than conventional smoking, and that the use of e-cigarettes is currently the most popular tool used by smokers who want to quit.

However, if a young person indicates that they would like to try e-cigarettes as a way of giving up smoking, they should be encouraged to contact the LAC Nurse, their GP or local stop smoking services which are recommended by Public Health England as the most effective way to stop smoking.

For more information please see Electronic Cigarettes - Evidence and Advice on E-cigarettes (GOV.UK).

2. Alcohol

All homes should be alcohol free zones; alcohol should not be brought or kept on the premises and children should not normally be taken into licensed premises, unless it is part of a clear plan leading toward independence or a special occasion; e.g. Christmas.

Health promotion should address the effects of alcohol and provide the children with an informed view on the subject.

Alcohol and Young People

Alcohol is a potentially dangerous substance and though its use is socially acceptable the dangers of over consumption are often under played both by consumers and the alcohol industry which targets young people.

Intoxication can lead to boisterous and uncontrolled behaviour among young people which can be disruptive and even dangerous. Young people are particularly susceptible to the effects of drinking alcohol and become intoxicated quickly, because their tolerance to alcohol is low.

Some of the children and young people we look after may have witnessed serious domestic disputes and violence, triggered by alcohol and drunkenness.

The children's home should represent a safe haven for children and young people.

Part of that safety includes not exposing young people to situations and substances which are harmful or could cause them distress.

The majority of children and young people find the behaviour of those who are intoxicated unsettling and / or distressing.

There are serious health risks associated with the consumption of alcohol and the possibility of alcohol dependency in later life should be discussed with young people.

Young people who are under the influence of alcohol could be placing themselves at risk of accidents or abuse.

If staff are concerned that a child/young person has been drinking alcohol, this should be raised with the home’s manager and the child’s social worker as required. Where it becomes evident, or it is suspected, that a child or young person has been drinking alcohol, the most appropriate response will vary dependent on how much the young person has had to drink or how it has effected them. These options are outlined below:

  • Offering fluids - water, squash;
  • Periodic monitoring and checks by staff - 10 minutes, 30 minutes, hourly, etc;
  • Contacting health professionals for advice e.g. G.P.;
  • Hospitalisation for day patient or overnight stay if appropriate, etc.

See Alcohol, Young People and the Law (GOV.UK).

Staff Guidance

All staff working with children have responsibilities in relation to their own alcohol use.

Children's Homes staff are expected to take an active role in discouraging young people from drinking alcohol.

Staff will not consume alcohol when on duty, and should not arrive at work suffering from the effects of over consumption of alcohol when off duty.

Young people

Young people should be dissuaded from drinking alcohol and the message that under age drinking is not acceptable must be reinforced with the young people.

Visitors who have been drinking

Visitors to the children's home should be told about the Home's no alcohol policy.

If a child's visitor is in your opinion drunk they will be asked to return when they are sober.

It may be necessary for staff to use their discretion where a situation arises when a visiting parent arrives at the home under the influence of alcohol.

If the visit to the child/young person goes ahead staff must make sure that the parent is aware that it is not acceptable to visit the home when they are not sober.

Difficult Situations

Situations will arise where a visit may have to be cancelled because the visitor drunk, but staff should make sure that the situation does not become inflamed or cause the child / young person distress.

Where this happens it will be necessary to inform the child's Social Worker and arrange for a letter to be sent to the parent explaining that intoxicated people are not allowed in the Children's Home because we have a responsibility to safeguard children and staff at the Home.