Teenagers joining the British Army's principal training centre are to be banned from smoking from next week.
Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hall, the Commanding Officer of the Army Foundation College in Harrogate, said smoking "isn't compatible" with the college's philosophy of "health, fitness and developing potential".
"Most recruits don’t smoke on arrival, yet most do by graduation. This is unacceptable," he wrote on Twitter.
"We stand for health, fitness and developing potential and smoking isn’t compatible with this philosophy.
"We are banning it for recruits from next week and will be smoke-free for all in 2020.”
Vaping is also included in the ban.
Lieutenant Colonel Hall’s decision has been met with a mixed response online.
According to the Army’s website, the Foundation College “plays a vital role in providing basic military training and developing future leadership“.
The college runs a 20-week course and a 40-week course, with new recruits expected to spend their first 6 weeks living in on-site accommodation before they are allowed a visit home.
Later in the course, there is leave allocated at Christmas and during the summer, with some additional weekends off.
Lieutenant Colonel Hall said he hoped his new rules would “discourage smoking amongst new recruits and reverse the recent trend we’ve seen in recruits taking up the habit”.
In January, a Freedom of Information request by the Times revealed as many as 7,200 troops are not currently medically fit enough to be sent abroad.
Some critics have raised concerns about how the policy will affect instructors and course leaders who were previously allowed to smoke on-site as long as it was not in front of trainees.
Replying to one tweet, Lieutenant Colonel Hall said: "Role modelling is a very important influencer on the behaviour of our recruits. Staff don’t smoke in front of them but we need to go further."