Smoking ban isn't appealing to schools
Local school officials say that an appeal from Gov. Jim Hunt to develop ''Tobacco-Free School Zones'' has not made them change their smoking policies.
Hunt's letter, which was sent to school officials throughout the state in March, encouraged school systems to prohibit students, teachers and visitors from using tobacco on school grounds.
That type of policy has been implemented in about nine of the state's 117 school systems, said Jim D. Martin, the state adviser on preventing tobacco use among teen-agers. No local school systems have done so, though.
Yadkin County school officials considered Hunt's idea before rejecting it in favor of keeping their policy of allowing high-school students -- with parental permission -- to smoke outside their buildings. Yadkin is one of seven school systems across the state that still allows high-school students to smoke on school property.
School-board members ''looked at it because it's an ongoing concern, but they decided to leave it the way it is,'' Superintendent Barbara Todd said.
Yadkin school officials are afraid that if they were to prohibit students from smoking outside, the students would light up in restroom stalls instead, Todd said.
Few students take advantage of the policy, Todd said.
''It's not an in-vogue thing to do that. Most of our kids don't smoke,'' she said.
Martin said he is not surprised that Yadkin and other school systems have not rushed to change their policies.
''I think that as more and more school systems start to develop such a policy and have good results from it, we'll see more and more school systems sign on,'' Martin said.
The tobacco prevention and control branch of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services plans seminars this fall to help school systems that want to make their policies more stringent, Martin said.
It could be difficult. Some local school systems only recently adopted policies that ask teachers not to smoke where students can see them.
In Stokes County, teachers can smoke only in designated areas on campus, and adult visitors can smoke only at outdoor school events, said Ron Carroll, the associate superintendent.
But the school system is not thinking of banning smoking altogether, even after reading Hunt's letter. ''Our board had basically within the past two years adopted those two policies, so our board did not make any changes based on the letter,'' Carroll said.
The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools adopted a policy in December 1994 requiring teachers and school employees not to smoke in the presence of students and set up outdoor smoking areas on school grounds. Students are not allowed to possess tobacco products on campus during school hours.
Davie County schools, which prohibit teachers from using tobacco on school grounds or where students can see them, probably won't go to a more stringent policy anytime soon, Superintendent William Steed said.
Hunt would like to see schools ban all adults from smoking on school grounds, state officials said. ''The governor's made it very clear that he believes that every adult, every day, should set a good example,'' said Tad Boggs, a spokesman for Hunt.