Montgomery County School Superintendent Edward Andrews thinks the school board should ban cigarette smoking on high school grounds, but a committee disagrees, saying the benefits of a ban might be outweighed by "negative factors."
The board's 12-year-old policy of allowing 10th through 12th grade students to smoke in designated areas was discussed at a board meeting last night. A vote on whether to change the policy is scheduled for September.
Andrews argued that "we ought to ban possession of tobacco on school grounds . . . . People who carry guns have some possibility of using them. It's the same with tobacco."
But an 11-member ad hoc committee composed of school principals, parents and students voted 9 to 2 to favor keeping the present policy. The committee reported that a smoking ban would lead to surreptitious smoking and thus: "It is believed that the negative factors such as increased vandalism . . . fire hazards . . . the possibility of increased truancy or tardiness . . . far outweigh any consideration to change the present policy."
Committee Chairman Robert H. Hacker, who is principal of John F. Kennedy High School, said he has noticed a decrease in the number of students who smoke, but added, "there will be people who will smoke regardless of what the policy is."
Newly appointed board member Richard Claypoole asked whether some students might be encouraged to smoke as an example of "antiauthority behavior" against a ban.
The committee was formed last spring after board members Suzanne Peyser and Carol Wallace asked for the smoking ban. It remained unclear last night how the board will decide the issue in September.