When the month of August began, so did the schools in Henrico County, Virginia in being free from tobacco and electronic cigarette use. If you are on or anywhere near the property, athletic facilities and parking lots of Henrico County Public school, make sure not to bring out your lighter to light up a cigarette or nonchalantly puff with your electronic cigarette; else, you will be apprehended.
New, Intensified Policy
Students of Henrico County Public Schools have long been covered by a policy that prohibits them from smoking or using any tobacco product. Last year, apparently, the school board passed and approved a strengthened regulation wherein not only students, but also faculty staff, parents and even guests are not supposed to smoke or use an electronic cigarette. According to the HCPS spokesperson Andy Jenks, this policy affects any person the campus at all times.
It is the belief of the school board that using tobacco and electronic cigarette on the school grounds, facilities and buildings; even during other related and sponsored events of the schools can cause great harm on the health of everyone.
The board also believes that it is and should be responsible in promoting positive role modeling in the school by enforcing healthy environment for learning and for working that is free from unwanted smoke and use of tobacco.
It was in September when this policy was voted on and earned 4-1 results. The widened tobacco ban was solely opposed by Lisa A. Marshall from Tuckahoe District. During this time, what probably convinced majority of the board members to intensify its smoking policy was the information detailing that over 30 other school districts in the state of Virginia, including Hanover County, have already approved and enforced comprehensive bans on tobacco, including electronic cigarette.
Moreover, the school officials in Henrico also previously conducted two separate surveys. One survey was solely for staff members and the other survey was open to everyone. From both surveys, results showed that two-thirds of all the respondents support this move to intensify the present smoking ban.
In the policy, tobacco products were defined as lit/unlit cigarettes, candy cigarettes, cigars, pipes, smokeless tobacco chews, dips and snuffs. Electronic cigarette products are also included along with tobacco packages/containers, lighters, products with logos of tobacco companies or anything that resembles tobacco.
The revamped policy is to be implemented through posting of signs in school facilities and entrances. This way, everyone, especially visitors will be informed that they are entering properties that are tobacco and electronic cigarette free. Signs are already put up on all Henrico County School District’s 72 schools.
The policy is also expected to be followed by other people who work on behalf of the school, in school vehicles and off the school grounds.
How Offenders Would Be Penalized
If any employee of the school has been caught for the first offense, he/she will be given verbal warning and will also be referred to take resources on tobacco cessation. If caught for the second time, he/she will receive written warning that will also be included in his/her personnel file. For the third offense, this lawbreaker will receive a letter indicating that his/her violation is considerably an insubordination; and thus will be punished with disciplinary actions.
If visitors were unable to obey the policy, they will be requested to stop. If he/she still fails to comply, this violator will be asked to leave the school premises. Violating the policy for a number of times will result to summoning the police and/or this person will not ever be allowed on the school property.
School officials, however, said that at present, they would limit the punishment on verbal warnings. Nobody, will yet, be in trouble for breaking the school law. Jenks added that at this time, they want to focus on spreading awareness first and then enforce penalties later.
Reactions From Those Involved
Carrie Robinson, part-time cafeteria employee in Adams Elementary, stated that this new policy will be very inconvenient especially to those that are addicted to smoking cigarettes. Yet, she also said that she is in support of this new regulation.
Shauwntae Harvey also approved the policy admitting that this will do well for her children. According to her, if good morals were to be promoted to the children, then smoking is certainly one to prevent them from being exposed to.