Schools to go tobacco-free

Henrico County public schools and school-sponsored events soon will be entirely tobacco-free, following the School Board's 4-1 vote Sept. 27 to enact a tobacco-free policy.

The policy likely will not take effect officially for a period of at least a few months, so that staff members and visitors who smoke or use tobacco have time to become adjusted to it.

Board member Lisa Marshall of the Tuckahoe District cast the dissenting vote.

More than 30 other school systems in the state – including Hanover County – already have similar tobacco policies. Henrico school officials believe the policy will promote healthier environments for students, staff members and visitors alike while encouraging healthier lifestyles at the same time and serving as a reinforcement to students about the dangers of tobacco.

Existing HCPS policy allowed individual principals to set their own conditions for tobacco and cigarette use on their campuses by adults, staff members and visitors. Twenty-four elementary schools in the county, three middle schools, five high schools and two specialty facilities already banned all tobacco use on their campuses prior to
the board's vote last week. Other schools and specialty centers allowed smoking in designated areas.

The change is not without detractors. About a third of the 1,263 faculty members who responded to a school system survey last month said they favored the existing policy, while two-thirds said they favored the new one.
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