08/08/08 — No smoking: Schools made right choice putting end to tobacco use

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No smoking: Schools made right choice putting end to tobacco use

It has always seemed to be an oddity that there should be anywhere in a health or education setting where smoking is permitted -- it just seems counterproductive.

And while smoking is indeed -- a choice -- the fact that provisions were made for it in schools across the state was simply wrong.

So a recent decision by many state schools to go tobacco-free is a smart one, especially in light of increasing evidence that smoking is on the rise among young people.

There will always be a debate about smoking as a choice that adults should be allowed to make -- and where and when it is appropriate for them to exercise that option. All the evidence in the world that smoking is a health risk will not stop some people from making the choice to use tobacco products -- and that is their right.

But when it comes to children -- and those who work with them -- there should be no choice and no provision. Tobacco does not belong in schools, and children should not encounter staff or anyone else using tobacco products -- even if they will then go home and see it there.

Sending the message that there are consequences to smoking and educating children about the risks of taking up the habit is something that should be part of all school health programs. Reinforcing the message by having policies against tobacco use on campus is the only way to make sure the information sticks.

It is surprising that it took so long to make schools tobacco-free and that there are so many hospitals that have only just made the switch as well. It would seem to be a decision that should have been made years ago.

It will be worth taking a closer look later to see if the policies succeed in actually reducing tobacco use.

Published in Editorials on August 8, 2008 10:32 AM