French schools 'allow smoking on grounds' over terror threat

Students enter a high school in Paris Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The SNPDEN union says the risk of attack outweighs the danger posed by smoking

French schools have begun allowing students to smoke on their grounds to prevent them becoming terror targets on the streets outside, a union says.

The union of school administrators first called for the measure days after the Paris attacks in November, but the health ministry refused.

The SNPDEN union renewed its call last week, but a union official said some schools had already gone ahead anyway.

A third of French teenagers smoke, according to government statistics.

"Students massing on the street constitutes a very high risk, one that is certainly greater than that posed by the consumption of tobacco," SNPDEN Deputy Secretary General Michel Richard told France Info.

Mr Michel said the union was not attempting to minimise the dangers linked to smoking, but he said it was "necessary in this particular context to protect against the biggest risks".

A certain number of schools had already adopted the measure without waiting for an official green light, he added.

France's health ministry refused the union's initial request to allow smoking on school grounds, saying the state of emergency currently in force in France "did not affect rules about smoking", Mr Michel said.

France has been under a state of emergency since the Paris attacks in November, which left 130 people dead and were claimed by the so-called Islamic State group (IS).

Last month French Prime Minister told the BBC that the measures would remain in place "for as long as necessary".

The state of emergency gives the authorities extra powers to put people under house arrest and conduct raids without a judicial warrant.