The following were among items discussed at the Jan. 12 meeting of the Montgomery County Board of Education. For more information, call 279-3617.

SMOKING BAN -- The board voted 6 to 0 to ban student smoking on school grounds, starting in September.

The vote came in response to a call by Superintendent Harry Pitt to "help students . . understand the personal health consequences . . and break what is a very addictive habit."

The action bars students from using any form of tobacco, including snuff and chewing tobacco, on school property and earmarks $25,000 for clinics and other programs to discourage smoking.

Each high school now is allowed to set its own guidelines for student tobacco use. Only two county high schools -- Walt Whitman in Bethesda and Seneca Valley in Germantown -- now ban smoking. At the other schools, students are allowed to smoke, but only outside school buildings.

Andrew Herscowitz, a senior at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac and the board's only student member, abstained, saying the policy discriminates by prohibiting smoking by students but not by staff members. Board member Margaret Slye was ill and absent.

The board discussed prohibiting staff members from smoking on school grounds, but members said they were reluctant to vote on such an issue until the state Board of Education considers employee smoking prohibitions. The school board did ask Pitt to study whether such a ban would be legally or contractually possible. Staff members now may smoke only in staff lounges and dining rooms.

The board still must determine how to enforce the new student smoking policy and must decide on penalties for violations.