Amidst reports that teachers were seen smoking at high schools, state secondary education teachers’ union Oelmek on Thursday said all faculty has “fully complied” with the legislation.

The education ministry has recently distributed a circular reminding that smoking and vaping, including nicotine-free vapes, are prohibited at private and state schools, citing the relevant 2017 legislation.

“This has been issue for over a decade at schools,” Oelmek’s general secretary Costas Hadjisavvas told Cyprus Mail.

“In the past, teachers reacted against the smoking ban because it was something new, but now, certainly, all have fully complied with the current legislation. In no case we will see a teacher smoking inside the school,” the teacher added.

He explained that the union had proposed the establishment of smoking rooms so that staff have an allocated space, away from students, to lit up their cigarettes.

“We did not reopen the issue nor are we planning to. There are more serious problems in education, such as the teaching material and student delinquency,” Hadjisavvas said.

However, it appears there are teachers who are finding it harder than others to not smoke at work. This mainly happens in high schools according to reports from teachers and students.

A Nicosia-based high school teacher told the Cyprus Mail that there are some teachers who cannot quit the habit of having a cigarette with their coffee while on school premises.

But this does not apply to everyone, the teacher said, explaining there are some who welcome and agree with the education ministry’s decision to include educators in the smoking ban.

Students have also reported that although “the vast majority” of teachers smoke outside the school, they have seen some of their teachers smoking cigarettes or vapes on school grounds.

“They smoke in a room that is next to the changing room for the boys,” a student attending a high school in the Nicosia district said.

Meanwhile, a primary school teacher, who wished to remain anonymous and taught in three schools in Limassol and Nicosia, said that her smoking colleagues abide by the regulation. “They agree that smoking should be banned in schools”

Although the relevant law provides for fines, in case of violation of the circular no penalties are imposed, senior education ministry official Irini Rodosthenous told the media earlier this week. The relevant law provides for a fine of €85, an administrative fine of up to €850 by the Health Services, or a hefty fine of up to €2,000 in case of conviction.

The circular notes that the school principal, as the person in charge of the no smoking area is considered responsible for this violation and bears the responsibility, unless they prove they had taken all the necessary measures to prevent smoking in the area.

According to the education ministry’s letter, no smoking signs should be installed in all school premises and all relevant stakeholders should be informed about the content of the circular.