Palm Beach School District Votes Tonight on Tobacco Policy

Earlier this year Florida legislators amended a state law to allow a complete ban of tobacco anywhere on school district property.  On Wednesday, October 19, 2011, the Palm Beach School Board will vote on a new policy stating if tobacco can be used on school property.  The current policy allows adults to smoke outdoors on school campus and district properties if they are at least 50 feet away from a building exit.

If the new tobacco policy passes, it would mean no smoking or using tobacco of any kind by anyone, such as employees, parents, and visitors, anywhere on any district-owned property or during school-sanctioned events.  Employees needing smoke breaks would have to drive off district property in order to be in compliance with the ban.

A favorable vote on the new policy will mean Palm Beach Schools will be added to the growing list of schools banning tobacco products on all district property.  In May, 2011, an Orange County, Florida voter survey supported banning tobacco on all K-12 school property by 88 percent.  In September Orange County Public Schools, which includes the city of Orlando, adopted the measure which will go into effect January 1, 2012.  The Orange County policy will be in effect 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

The Hernando County School District Board recently voted down a tougher tobacco policy, citing employees are facing enough hardships at this time, including rising health care costs.

The Palm Beach School Board’s approval tonight for a tougher tobacco policy will be a winning situation for everyone.  Eliminating tobacco use from district property will mean a healthier environment with less tobacco litter.  It will reduce lost productivity due to smoke breaks, and staff who smoke won’t be perceived as taking more breaks.  Finally, and most important, all district employees will be healthier role models for the students.

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