The cigarette vending machine that went unnoticed for THREE WEEKS in a local primary school.

Parents of the children at Salisbury Green Primary School in Cliff Avenue have reacted with anger after it emerged that a cigarette machine had been installed by accident in the main hall. According to emails that we have received from enraged mums and dads, the mistake wasn’t found for three weeks, and the parents became suspicious after a number of children kept saying that they needed £9.50 for lunch money in coins with no change given.

Luke Strike has a six-year-old daughter who attends the school, and he spoke to a Southend News Network reporter to say that he is disgusted. He added: ‘According to Chlo, a man turned up one day and installed a new machine that they were allowed to use at break time and lunch time, and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing when I found out the truth. She was writing a piece of homework called ‘What do I like doing at play time’ and wrote ‘I use the special box to get 16 Silk Cut.’ The dinner ladies were letting them take boxes of matches from the kitchen in return for a couple of cigs, and they were even letting them smoke out the back.’

Melanie Rees-La, the Salisbury Corner headteacher, confirmed to our reporters that the machine had been installed. She said: ‘Unfortunately, a vending machine engineer entered our premises in early January, and we didn’t think that anything was wrong as we had ordered a healthy snack dispenser to encourage the children to make sensible food choices between meals. However, it now appears that the company confused our order with a machine that was due to be fitted in the Pier and Plank Pub on North Road, and due to the amount of paperwork we are currently dealing with our staff members didn’t notice the error until a parent asked us why their son’s teeth had turned yellow.’

A local public health spokesperson confirmed that all affected children in the school would be issued with a three-month course of nicotine patches, but three of the pupils are currently over in Lanzarote using their duty-free allowance.