Voorheesville board of education drafts enhanced smoking policy

The Voorheesville board of education is presenting its draft of the district's new tobacco policy to the public to collect input on changes before adding it to the board of education's policy manual.

The new draft includes more specific wording about tobacco use and enforcement than the board's current policy.

Currently, the policy states that students cannot smoke a cigarette, cigar, pipe or use chewing or smokeless tobacco on school grounds, as well as prohibiting smoking by staff or other tobacco use in all school buildings, on school grounds or at any school-sponsored event.

The new draft provides a detailed reason for the new policy, policy definitions and specific rules and consequences regarding the use of tobacco and related items by staff and students.

Superintendent Linda Langevin said the draft is a complete change from what is currently defined.

It's so different I can't in all good conscience call it an update, said Langevin. "It has standards for everybody and specific consequences."

The Board of Education's vice president, C. James Coffin, said he thought that the new draft is comprehensive and adequately prepared with outside recommendations.

"I thought it was a pretty complete package," said Coffin.

Langevin said the school board worked with the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) to complete a survey with a look at whether what the board had in place was adequate.

"Basically, we analyzed whether or not it was comprehensive enough," said Langevin. "We found it had several areas lacking."

Langevin said making the policy as effective as possible is important simply "because smoking kills."

The policy draft, which is very specific, includes guidelines that would prohibit tobacco promotional items and advertising on school grounds, in school vehicles, school supplies and in school publications. Students and staff will be prohibited from wearing clothing, shoes, accessories and gear promoting tobacco products on school property. Additionally, the district will "strive to request tobacco-free editions of all publications in school libraries and classrooms."

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