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Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in schools

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Parents, carers and schools should have consistent messaging about drugs and alcohol, and should work together if an issue arises.

Alcohol, tobacco (including e-cigarettes) and other drugs present a risk to the health and safety of children and young people. They are incompatible with a learning environment and inappropriate in a school setting.

E-cigarettes and vaping

E-cigarettes are devices that deliver an aerosol by heating a solution that users breathe in. The aerosol is commonly referred to as ‘vapour’. Using an e-cigarette is commonly known as ‘vaping’.

E-cigarettes are battery operated and may look like:

  • cigarettes
  • cigars
  • pipes
  • pens
  • highlighters
  • USB memory sticks
  • watches.

The take-up of e-cigarettes by young people is increasing. A survey of 13-to-19-year-olds by South Australia’s Commissioner for Children and Young People (in 2022) found that 2 in 3 young people had tried vaping, with almost 1 in 4 describing themselves as a regular vaper.

SA Health fact sheets and resources

You can help protect young people by learning about the different types of e-cigarettes and the health risks they incur.

SA Health has e-cigarettes and vaping information and resources available, including fact sheets for teachers and schools, parents and carers, and children and young people.

Vaping action plan for schools

The department has an action plan to address vaping in schools. It brings together a range of new and existing initiatives to support schools to address this issue.

Newly available resources include:

  • curriculum planning and implementation resources for teachers
  • funded vaping education programs for students with a preventative health approach
  • promotion of evidence-based webinars and resources for schools
  • a public health campaign for schools, in partnership with Drug and Alcohol Services SA (DASSA), providing information for students, parents and teachers on the harms of vaping and supports available
  • improved guidance to schools on:
    • maintaining smoke-free environments
    • managing incidents involving vaping
    • supporting families to access additional supports.

Initiatives being developed include responding to vaping training for school staff in collaboration with DASSA, the Cancer Council SA and the Commissioner for Children and Young People.

This webpage will be updated as more resources are released.

Department for Education staff can access more information on our intranet, EDi – see address e-cigarettes and vaping concerns in schools (staff login required).

How drugs, tobacco and alcohol are managed

The department applies a harm minimisation approach when managing suspected drug-related incidents.

Our schools have access to numerous resources to help them address concerns, including:

  • our smoke-free policy
  • our alcohol, tobacco and other drugs incident management procedure
  • Positive Choices website funded by the Australian Government Department of Health
  • preventative alcohol and other drug education by private (or external) providers.

Positive Choices website

Positive Choices provides free access to evidence-based alcohol and other drug education resources (including e-cigarettes) for teachers, schools, parents and students.

Preventative alcohol and other drug education programs

The government funds private providers to deliver preventative alcohol and other drug education, including vaping. The programs are available to all government, Catholic and independent schools in South Australia.

To access these programs, contact:

Alcohol and drug education in the curriculum

Alcohol and other drugs education, including tobacco products and e-cigarettes, is included in the Australian Curriculum on Health and Physical Education from foundation to year 10.

It helps students explore the impact that drugs can have on individuals, families and communities.

Schools also have access to South Australian curriculum planning and implementation resources that provide age-appropriate, strengths-based guidance for teachers in relation to e-cigarettes, that can be contextualised to suit both site and community needs and priorities.

Advice, treatment and referral

For support to manage vaping, families should contact their General Practitioner (GP).

For the cost of a local call, the SA Quitline has a confidential phone service that operates Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm. Counsellors have skills in supporting people to address their vaping or smoking. Phone: 13 78 48.

The Alcohol and Drug information Service (ADIS) is a confidential phone counselling, information and referral service for anyone affected by wider alcohol and other drugs use. Phone: 1300 13 13 40.

Help for families, children and young people

Visit sa.gov.au for more details about:

Contact your school direct for information about drug education programs or counselling.

Engagement and Wellbeing

Email: education.engagementandwellbeing [at] sa.gov.au