Ohio BOE recommends tobacco-free campuses

Associated Press


Smoking should be banned not only inside Ohio school buildings, but also on surrounding school property under a recommendation by the state school board.

The Ohio Board of Education voted unanimously this month to recommend that school campuses — including parking lots and athletic facilities — be tobacco free. School systems may adopt or reject the recommendation that covers all forms of tobacco.

State law prohibits smoking inside school buildings, but the surrounding campuses are not automatically smoke-free areas.

The board was pushed to recommend smoke-free school campuses by a group that was behind a similar policy adopted in central Ohio’s Delaware County, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

After getting all Delaware County school districts to commit to smoke-free campuses, the Anti-Tobacco Coalition of Delaware County decided to try to push the idea statewide.

“All school children across the state of Ohio should have that same advantage,” Linda Diamond, of the Anti-Tobacco Coalition of Delaware County, told the newspaper.

Under the board’s recommendation, students would not be allowed to possess any tobacco product, while faculty and other adults would not be able to use it.

State school board member Thomas Gunlock doesn’t know whether many districts will accept the suggestion.

“You hope so, but, obviously, we’re a state that allows local control,” he said.

A recent high-school graduate in Delaware County, Graham Bowling, says it is important that students not see teachers or other adults smoking.

If these students don’t get a good example at home, “they need it at school,” Bowling, 18, said.

In Delaware County, people were “much more compliant than people thought they would be,” Diamond said.

The Columbus City Schools district in central Ohio, Athens City Schools in southeast Ohio and southwest Ohio’s Middletown City Schools already ban tobacco use on all school property, and Cincinnati Public Schools spokeswoman Christine Wolff says that district bans smoking on all its property.

The Columbus district is clarifying its policy to make sure everyone knows the ban applies to smokeless tobacco products, spokesman Andrew Marcelain said.

Smoking is banned in buildings and outside around doorways in northeast Ohio’s Elyria City Schools, but spokeswoman Amy Higgins expects the board to look at the recommendation, “especially since it is from the state board.”

Some other districts did not immediately return calls.