Systems' tobacco policy violations enforced, but 'not an issue'
by Mark Andrews
Oct 14, 2011 | 2357 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A new “24/7” no-tobacco-use policy prohibiting tobacco use on school grounds had its first reading approved at Monday’s Bartow County School Board meeting. Photo illustration: SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
A new “24/7” no-tobacco-use policy prohibiting tobacco use on school grounds had its first reading approved at Monday’s Bartow County School Board meeting. Photo illustration: SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
The Bartow County Board of Education on Monday approved the first reading of a new "24/7" no-tobacco-use policy that prohibits any tobacco use on school grounds after school hours.

"Student-wise it's always been the same. No tobacco use for students, period," said Bartow County School Resource Officer Chief Dan Knowles.

Knowles said students who violate this policy face varying degrees of disciplinary measures.

"We could charge [students] with possession of tobacco by a minor ... but we usually just keep those in house and don't send them to court," Knowles said.

He said adults attending after school events like football games have used tobacco on school grounds, but most are respectful. He said previous policies have served well, but the new policies also prohibit adults from using tobacco at any school function.

"Smokers are pretty easy to see but people are usually pretty good, we haven't had any [previous] confrontations with anybody, if we tell them they can't do that on campus they usually stop it. Back a few years ago we kind of let the parents go out to the parking lot instead of being in the stadium area ... but of course we don't do that now, we just kindly tell them to put it up or put it away in their vehicles, and we haven't really had any incidents or run-ins with it," Knowles said. "It's a see it, take care of it sort of thing."

He said there are no fines in place for adults who have violated the previous policy and doesn't expect there to be problems with adults violating the new policy.

"We could write a ticket to court for [a tobacco violation], but we've never done it and I don't think we plan on really making that an issue," Knowles said. "We've never had someone argue that with us."

Cartersville City Schools Assistant Superintendent Ken Clouse said the school system has had in place a 24/7 tobacco policy since about 2007, but the school board does plan to put the policy under review.

"[The tobacco policy] is pretty much in line with what the Department of Health has sent out to us," Clouse said.

The city currently is preparing for its Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation review.

"We will be reviewing the [tobacco policy] here soon, before the end of the year, to change anything in our current policy, but current policy, as far as I know, has served us well," Clouse said. "We haven't really had an issue about tobacco, it doesn't usually come up, and again I think we're in compliance with what the standards are."

More than 50 school districts in the state have 24/7 no-tobacco-use policies.

Lisa Greeby, health services program manager for the Northwest Georgia Public Health District, worked with Bartow schools on their new policy and provided the following information on tobacco use:

* Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. Annually, more than 10,000 Georgians die from tobacco-related illnesses, that is one our of every six deaths in adult Georgians. Approximately 19,000 (5 percent) middle school students and 72,000 (17 percent) of high school students in Georgia smoke cigarettes, according to the 2009 Georgia Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Ninety percent of long-term smokers begin when they are young.

* Changing from 'No Smoking Use' to 'No Tobacco Use; 24/7,' on and off campus events, students, staff and visitors' protects the health, both physically and economically, of Bartow County residents.

* Signs will be provided to the schools and prominently posted to remind people that Bartow County School Board policy prohibits tobacco use.

* The Bartow County Board of Health voted and implemented on July 1, a tobacco-free campus for the health department campus.

* Georgia QuitLine, 1-877-270-STOP, is available to tobacco users over age 13 for cessation counseling. Uninsured adults might also be able to receive Nicotine Replacement Therapy to help them assist in making quitting possible.