Our high school administrative board has been trying to decide weather smoking on school grounds should be restricted. New York State regulates smoking in all public places except for schools. We have been educating students for many years about the dangers of smoking, so why do we still allow students to smoke on school grounds. With this debate we are forced to take under advisement the feelings of teachers, school administrators, and more importantly parents and students.
For a long time now many people have had different views about smoking in public places. Smokers feel it is their right to smoke where and when they want. On the other hand non-smokers feel smokers violate their rights and endanger there life. However, our school has decided to institute an Anti-Smoking rule. By instituting a rule of no smoking on school grounds we can protect todays youth against the harms of smoking. This rule would bring many benefits.
At the end of the last school year we ruled that smoking on school grounds would not be tolerated. Any student caught smoking on school grounds would be given demerits and have the incident placed on their permanent record. After being caught (and given demerits) for smoking three times the student would be placed under disciplinary advisement, that would be provided by the school. This was known as our Anti-Smoking program. We hoped this would prevent students from smoking on school grounds and hopefully prevent other students from starting smoking. During the summer before the start of the next school year the Anti-Smoking program was met with harsh feelings from students, parents and even teachers. Students were angry because it seemed the school was trying to put nose were it didnt belong. Parents were happy that the school was watching out for the health of their children, but they didnt like how being caught would show on their permanent record. They were afraid that colleges might misconstrue their records and deny their child entrance into college. Teachers also thought that putting the incident on their permanent record would hurt the students in their quest for entrance into college. The students, parents, and teachers proposed an idea to the school board that would not list the incident on their record. Still the students and many parents were still against the school taking away the students right to smoke when and where they want.
The original Anti-Smoking program and the revised one are just two of the many ideas being debated over the past summer. Other school districts have happily instituted similar programs. The program could work in this district too. However people opposed to the program are doing all they can to stop the school board from instituting the Anti-Smoking program. They argue, first of all, that the program will take away time from teachers who are forced to institute this rule. A great deal of time, they dispute, would be spent by teachers who will have to spend time chasing and writing up offenders. Another argument against the Anti-Smoking program had no business being enforced by the schools. It is the position of the opposition that it is a parents job to reprimand their children for smoking and not the schools. A third argument is that the program was taking away the rights of smokers who are of the legal and still in school. State laws tells them that at the age of 18 they are allowed to smoke all the cigarettes they want, so why is the school acting as a bigger governing body then the state that its in.
Despite the opponents claim that a great deal of time will be spent by teachers trying to enforce this rule, the program does not call for teachers to enforce it at every chance. The program will allow the teachers to enforce it at their own discretion. Also, teachers in our district never change their list of priorities. Their first priority has been and will be to provide the entire student body with an excellent education. We have heard the teachers and others in their view that if a student is caught the incident should not be put on their permanent record, and think the program should be adjusted accordingly.
Also, rather than reprimanding the children for smoking, as the opposition states, the program is used as a way of enforcing school rules. The school in no way supports anything that endangers the health or well being of any student. Allowing people to smoke on school grounds takes away from that. Parents leave their children with us, expecting them to come home just as healthy. We dont allow many things for fear that it will cause harm to the student. If we allow smoking on school grounds, even if it is all right with the parents of the student, it is still effecting those who dont smoke. That is where the school brings its right to reprimand any student who is bring any harm to another student. The United States Federal Drug and Food Administration along with the Surgeon General have said that second-hand smoke is just as liking to give you lung cancer. Any non-smoking student who is just attending class does not deserve that.
Finally, in contrast to the oppositions claim, the program does not try to take state law into their hands. State law allows any person over the age of 18 to smoke cigarettes, but they are regulated as to when and where they can smoke. When in restaurants and bars people are at the discretion of the owner of the establishment. If the owner of a restaurant and/or bar can tell paying customers when and where they can smoke, so can schools.
The only thing that we are sure of is that everyone will not be pleased in the outcome. However, the school has taken the views of all sides into consideration and believes that the program will be the best way to enforce the rules of smoking on school grounds. A program such as this will also help other districts that have yet to consider the issue of smoking on school grounds.
At the end of the summer, a week before the start of school, the school board, will have the opportunity to give the Anti-Smoking program life. Although their has been a few events that have taken place to show their discontent for the program, the community and school board believes that this program will set a new precedent for many other schools facing that same issue. In a day where everybody is worried about their health, now seems to be the perfect time to bring this program to our community.