Smoking ban in schools broadened by board

February 12, 1993|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

Starting July 1, you may smoke on school grounds only if the dismissal bell has rung and you're outdoors.

The Board of Education approved the policy change Wednesday, extending its no-smoking policy to all school grounds, including those that are leased.

The state requires such a policy to be in place by September, but Superintendent R. Edward Shilling recommended July 1 because the current contracts with school employees end June 30. Those contracts allow staff members to smoke outdoors at any hour.

"We will offer smoking-cessation programs at no charge," Mr. Shilling said, as long as enough employees show an interest.

The school board two years ago made its buildings smoke-free, but adults were allowed to smoke outside, such as during athletic events, public meetings or recreation council activities.

Board member C. Scott Stone tried to make the policy air-tight by adding a sentence banning the sale of tobacco at all times on school grounds.

He said last month he was surprised to find there was no such ban.

But his amendment died with a 2-2 tie vote.

Joseph D. Mish voted with Mr. Stone, but members Ann M. Ballard and John D. Myers voted against the amendment.

President Carolyn L. Scott was absent because of illness.

The sale of tobacco is already banned inside the buildings owned and leased by the schools. Mr. Stone's proposal would have extended the ban to the grounds surrounding the buildings.

Mrs. Ballard said she did not think the wording change was necessary.

"That's so far-fetched," she said of vendors wanting to sell cigarettes. "I don't think it was necessary to rewrite the whole thing."

Vernon Smith, director of school support services, said principals still have the authority to say no to the sale of tobacco at any time on school grounds.

"We control absolutely what gets sold on school property," Mr. Smith said.

He said he knows of no instances in which cigarettes were sold at a school, even during evening events.

Peter B. McDowell, director of secondary education, said he wouldn't have had a problem enforcing Mr. Stone's ban.

He said students rarely sell cigarettes to each other, but if they are caught, the appropriate punishments for smoking are already in place -- suspension or attendance at a Saturday anti-smoking seminar.

Also supporting Mr. Stone's amendment was student representative Katie Kelly, but her vote in the board does not count.

"It might be hard to police, but at least we would have this here if someone is caught," Ms. Kelly said.

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