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Henrico schools call smoking ban a win-win

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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - The Henrico School Board voted to make its campuses smoke free - before, during and after school. The new policy applies to everyone who steps onto campus or attends an off-campus school event.

Since 2000, schools had provided designated smoking areas for staff members to smoke during school and adults to smoke at after-school events.

The school district, which now joins 32 other tobacco-free school districts across the state, said their plan is two fold. 

“It’s about making sure that our employees are healthy and show our students a tobacco free lifestyle," said Pat Kinlaw of Henrico Schools.

School leaders claim that when students see faculty, staff or other adults smoking during the school day it sends a mix message about healthy living habits. The division wants the new policy and the new message to be clear…no smoking on school property and smoking is unhealthy for everyone.

“This needs to be done over a period of time so that people who do smoke have some time make adjustments," said Kinlaw.

Students have never been permitted to smoke on school grounds, but the new ban even extends to extra-curricular activities that happen on school property . This means no smoking in the stands or parking lot at a high school football game. Many parents say the policy can only have good results for students.

"I'm really glad of that because they need to see everybody doing the right thing," said parent Sheena Campbell.

The school board’s vote Thursday night was almost unanimously in favor of the ban except for one member. Lisa Marshall says her vote against the ban was a difficult one but that for her this was ultimately a civil liberties issue.

“I felt that the employees should have the right to engage in the lawful act of smoking in a designated area away from the physical presence of and out of sight from students during their workday. The School Board has voted to adopt the policy and I accept the decision,” said Marshall in a statement she released Friday.

It seems as though most parents are not only accepting the new rule but embracing it.

"As far as teaching during the school day I think it's probably an ok thing,” said parent Judy Fryer.

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