Smoking bans proposed for high schools in Washington's Maryland suburbs encountered obstacles last night from both the Montgomery and Prince George's county school boards. Students who obey school guidelines may still light up.
In Montgomery, the Board of Education deleted budget funds for enforcing a recently approved ban on smoking in the county's 22 high schools. The action came despite the strenuous objection of Superintendent Edward Andrews, who said he could not "ethically or morally say to principals" they should stand by the ban that was voted by the old school board unless money is provided to enforce it by hiring security monitors.
Currently, students who have written permission from their parents may smoke in specially designated areas.
Last November, the previous board approved a smoking ban and scheduled it to begin at all high schools next September. That policy gave individual schools permission to begin the ban earlier if they wished, and Andrews said the directive is still in force, although he added that the lack of monitors will make it moot.
Last night the board asked Andrews to return in May with an alternate plan that would allow high schools to decide on an individual basis whether or not smoking will be permitted.
In Prince George's County, the Board of Education narrowly rejected a smoking ban last night.
The vote was 4 to 3, with one member abstaining and another absent, against a resolution sponsored by members Norman Saunders and Angelo Castelli to eliminate designated smoking areas established at high schools under a 1969 board policy.
High school smoking is now confined to outdoor areas, usually parking lots, where students may go between classes, at lunch and before and after school. All 20 county high school principals agreed that a return to the pre-1969 smoking ban would be unenforceable and would result in smokers lighting up inside the school buildings.
"Our bathrooms were filled with smoke and loiterers," said James Foran of Parkdale High School. "Some of our students did not feel comfortable using them--at least now we have the use of our bathrooms," he added.
School Superintendent Edward J. Feeney also opposed the ban, saying it would require $232,000 to pay additional personnel to enforce it in a year when full funding for the proposed school budget is already uncertain. Nevertheless, Castelli criticized the principals for their unwillingness to make a smoking ban work with existing personnel.
"Apparently we don't have those kind of innovators among our ranks," Castelli said.