School Board should resolve to quit

Published 9:54 pm Thursday, January 7, 2016

Recognizing that schools are a place of learning both inside and outside of the classroom, the Suffolk School Board already has set a variety of tobacco-free policies governing the behavior of its students and staff.

It’s a well known and well established scientific fact that the use of tobacco, whether smoked, chewed or otherwise, causes cancer and a variety of other ailments. And while it’s great to encourage adult smokers to quit, which reduces their chances of suffering from any of these ailments, it’s even better to keep young people from ever starting to smoke, which even more drastically reduces their chances of getting cancer or other ailments commonly associated with tobacco use.

Most individuals who use tobacco products start before their 18th birthday, so if young people can graduate from high school tobacco-free, there’s a very good chance they will never start using tobacco.

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All of these facts were taken into account when the School Board established its anti-tobacco policy. However, according to Hunter Turley, a Lakeland High School student, the policy doesn’t go far enough, in part because it has not kept up with technology.

Electronic cigarettes have exploded in popularity in recent years, and they are not covered by the policy in the same way as traditional forms of tobacco.

In addition, the School Board should remove designated smoking areas, include on- and off-site school events in the prohibition and treat visitors the same as students and staff.

Hunter also requested announcements at sporting events to ask everyone present to refrain from using tobacco.

We urge the School Board to adopt these tweaks at the earliest possible date. Students and non-smoking staff should be able to attend school and school activities without being assaulted by secondhand smoke, and students deserve a learning environment where they don’t learn to emulate deadly behaviors.