(Posted April 18, 2014)
By Amanda Amsel, Staff Writer
The London school board is poised to ban tobacco use on campus for all staff members—the first step toward a completely smoke-free campus.
On April 8, the board held a first reading on the proposed policy, which would prevent staff members from using tobacco on school grounds. The board is expected to vote on the ban at their next meeting, set for 6 p.m. May 13. If approved, the policy will go into effect July 1.
“Our current policy permits staff to smoke on campus in designated smoking areas that are 25 to 30 feet from the main entrances of the buildings,” said Superintendent Tom Ben. “This new proposal would take away those areas and not allow staff to smoke on campus at all.”
Faculty would not be permitted to smoke on school grounds before or after school or at any school activities.
The change was proposed by a committee made up of staff, administrators, parents and other community members. The group weighed the pros and cons of the current policy versus a ban. After several meetings, they decided to recommend a ban.
“This policy falls in line with a state effort to have a smoke-free environment,” Ben said. “We are trying to implement a healthy lifestyle for our students and staff.”
Ben noted that Madison County Hospital and some other area school districts have implemented full or partial smoking bans in the last few years.
“Tobacco use increases health insurance rates and negatively affects productivity,” Ben said. “There is also all kinds of research that shows it is bad for your lungs and body. Our number one priority is the well-being of our students and we feel this tobacco ban will ensure that.”
If the ban for staff is approved, the next step will be to ban the use of tobacco for parents and other guests while they are on campus and at after-school activities.
“We eventually want to be completely smoke-free, but we do not have a date for when that will occur,” Ben said. “We want to contribute to a healthy lifestyle for our students, staff and guests, which should be looked at as positive.”