Smoking is not allowed in any Georgetown County School District building but it is not forbidden on all school property, such as in parking lots.
That could soon change if a stricter smoking policy being considered by the school board is put in place.
District Risk Manager Kelly Kelley presented the board with the proposed new policy last month and it was discussed again at a meeting this week.
The goal of the new policy is to “provide a 100-percent tobacco-free, smoke-free environment for all students, staff and visitors,” the draft policy states.
“Our policy is dated and needs to be revised,” District Superintendent Dr. Randy Dozier said.
If passed as presented, the new policy would ban not only cigarettes on any school property but also other tobacco products including cigars, pipes, smokeless tobacco and snuff.
It would also prohibit the district from accepting any money or other contributions from the tobacco industry.
Board member Teresa Bennani said she wonders about the enforcement of such a stringent policy.
She wondered if someone grandfather who goes to his car to smoke during a football game would be cited.
Board member Arthur Lance said he cannot imagine some teachers being able to make it an entire workday without having a cigarette.
“They are going to get a smoke. The question is what are you going to do when you catch them?” Lance asked.
Dozier admits there are some teachers and other staff members who “disappear” to their cars or other places at times during the day to sneak a smoke.
He said it has basically been a “don’t ask don’t tell type of thing” throughout the district.
District workers who do smoke already have to pay higher insurance premiums.
Bennani said there may come a time when the district could lose funding if such a policy is not in place.
Before deciding on a new policy, the board will hear from someone from the South Carolina Tobacco Collaborative to find out how other school districts are handling things such as enforcement.
By Scott Harper
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