School board considers new tobacco policy
A tobacco-free policy that would ban smoking and tobacco use on school grounds was introduced Monday to the Vigo County School Board.
Under the current policy, tobacco use is prohibited in buildings and school-owned vehicles at all times. Tobacco use on school grounds is forbidden between 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the regular school day. If an adult attended an evening event at a school, that person could still go outside to smoke.
Board member Michael Tom proposed a new policy that, if passed, would ban tobacco use after school hours. “We’ve always talked smoking is bad, but we allow it on school property after hours,” Tom said. “We want to set an example for our youth.”
The proposed policy defines tobacco use, which includes smoking or chewing tobacco, and outlines enforcement if the rules are not followed.
Visitors who use tobacco on school property could be referred to the building principal or other corporation supervisor, who may direct the visitor to leave. Repeated violations could result in a recommendation to the superintendent to prohibit the violator from being on school property. If necessary, law enforcement could be contacted to assist in enforcing the policy.
The proposed policy states that students would be referred to their principal and employees would be referred to their supervisor for further action.
Since the policy was introduced Monday, board members will have two more readings before they vote.
Several in attendance spoke to the board Monday, advocating a tobacco policy change.
Vigo VOICE members, a high school group opposed to tobacco use, favor passing a tobacco-free ordinance.
“We learn not to smoke,” said Vigo VOICE member Brooke Reliford, adding that seeing people smoke on school grounds after hours conveys a mixed message. “It can be confusing,” she said.
Area physician Randy Stevens also endorsed a revised tobacco policy, citing statistics for those diagnosed with lung cancer.
“A policy like this will have a tremendous impact,” he said.
Joanne Hammer can be reached at (812) 231-4214 or firstname.lastname@example.org.