WE nearly broke the internet this week with our exclusive story about 14-year-old Mason Dunn — after teachers banned him from taking his e-cigarette to school.

The story was our most read yesterday and a host of national websites rushed to get the story.

Mason's mother Sue contacted us because she was furious the school — Kearsley Academy — was not allowing him to 'vape' during school time.

Not many people agreed with her — 83 per cent backed the school in a vote on our website — but she was annoyed because her son had been smoking real cigarettes since the age of 12.

He had taken up the habit without his mum knowing — but once she found out she has been successfully trying to help her son quit by using e-cigs.

Miss Dunn went into the school to try to explain the situation — but teachers were having none of it.

Headteacher Suzanne Pountain says the school is a no-smoking site — which presumably means teachers cannot smoke either e-cigs or the real thing either .

She adds that the school has a "duty of care" to their students to reinforce the no-smoking policy and to discourage them from smoking.

Students who do smoke are pointed in the direction of the school nurse and also given information about Bolton's 'smoke cessation programme'.

But let me play devil's advocate here for a minute.

The school is saying all the right things about smoking — but this lad had managed to stop smoking harmful cigarettes and moved onto arguably much less harmful e-cigs.

But now, because of the ban, he is back smoking proper cigarettes.

Battery powered e-cigarettes are an alternative way of consuming nicotine, without inhaling harmful chemicals such as tar and carbon monoxide.

And a recent report carried out on behalf of Public Health England concluded that they are 95 per cent less harmful than tobacco, and that they could be prescribed on the NHS in future to help smokers quit.

Some concerns have been raised about the possible inconsistencies of quality in e-cigarettes — and whether they are completely safe — but surely if they are helping this lad quit smoking, then the school should be supporting that.

The student could be allowed to smoke his e-cig in a controlled environment — on condition that his ultimate aim is to quit vaping eventually too.

I hate smoking on many levels. Apart from its toxic effect on health, it is such an anti-social habit.

I would support a wholesale ban on 'proper cigarettes' — in favour of e-cigs which appear to be healthier and much less anti-social.

E-cigs might not be healthy — but they are a damn sight better than proper fags. Surely they are a step in the right direction — as well as an effective method of quitting.