The no smoking sign switched on

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By Kirsten Laskey

The no smoking sign has been permanently lit at Los Alamos Public Schools. During the school board meeting Tuesday night, the Tobacco Policy 5128 and Regulation 5128R were approved and as result, tobacco use has been extinguished from the school district.


The policy states that no tobacco will be used on school property or at school functions.


Additionally, there will be an ongoing campaign to keep students from initiating tobacco use, help students quit tobacco use and prevent students who continue to use tobacco from using it on school grounds and at school events.


To bolster the district’s ban on tobacco, adults, school personnel, volunteers and others are also prohibited from smoking, holding a pipe, cigar, cigarette or using tobacco in any form at the schools’ campuses, sponsored activities, buildings and vehicles. They are also banned from smoking in personnel vehicles while they transport students to and from school events.


Further, students cannot wear or possess anything that promotes tobacco products or companies while on the schools’ campuses, buildings, property, vehicles and events.


Counseling services will ensure that the necessary counseling and referrals are available to stop tobacco use and addiction to nicotine.


To make sure the policy is working, the school board will participate in anonymous student surveys and assess tobacco use and other health risk behaviors. The school prevention specialist will write an annual report on the policy’s implementation and effectiveness along with recommendations for improvement.


Georgina Williams, LAPS prevention specialist, explained in a telephone call this morning that this policy revises a policy that was already in place.


“It’s designed to help kids not start and help other kids stop (smoking),” Williams said. “It’s not punitive anymore.”  


Williams reported to the board that Katie Bridgewater, a contractor with Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, wrote a grant, Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation (TUPAC), to help fund the program,


Williams told the Monitor this morning the grant will help pay for Bridgewater’s collaboration with the district in revising the policy as well as purchasing the curriculum and materials to educate students and the community about the new policy.


“Tobacco has been a big issue in this district for many years,” Rick Mai, LAPS director of student services, said after the meeting.  With this policy implemented, he added, “I think it’s going to be a benefit for students, the community that we’ve taken this approach to the cessation of tobacco.”


Superintendent Gene Schmidt also sees the benefits in this policy.


“I think this raises the public’s consciousness,” he said. “It allows us to have conversations with all the students in the schools. I think being conscious of good health habits, even focusing on an early age, will really have an impact (and a) tremendous benefit in public health. We applaud the board.”


Williams said including adults in the policy will have  a positive effect. “We’re a model for our kids,” she said. “We’re modeling a healthy lifestyle.”


The community will have an opportunity to learn more about the policy during the upcoming health fair, where the smoking cessation project will have a booth.