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Legislation Could Provide Localities Ability to Ban Smoking on School Grounds

Publication Date: 2012-02-10
  • Author:BRIAN TROMPETER
  • Publication:Sun (VA) Gazette

A local House of Delegates member’s bill to allow public-school districts to ban smoking outdoors on their properties has met defeat, but a companion bill is advancing in the state Senate.

House Bill 654, submitted by Del. Kaye Kory (D-38th), on Feb. 2 was passed by indefinitely (i.e., killed) on a voice vote by a subcommittee of the House General Laws Committee. 

But Senate Bill 467, a similar piece of legislation introduced by state Sen. Ralph Northam (D-Norfolk), on Feb. 7 cleared the Senate Committee on Local Government on a 12-3 vote. Senators voted 39-0 on Feb. 9 to dispense with the bill’s constitutional reading.

Kory, who was pleased that her bill at least got heard this year, unlike in the 2011 session, said she is heartened Northam’s bill is progressing.

“The House will have to vote on smoking one way or the other,” she said. “It’s my opinion that it’s a vote a lot of members of the House don’t want to be on record for.”

Like Kory’s bill, Northam’s legislation would extend the smoking ban from the interiors of public elementary, intermediate and high schools to include the school grounds. The bill also would prohibit smoking within the interiors of public school-administration buildings, instead of just structures where classrooms were present. 

“I think it should be a blanket smoke-free zone,” Kory said of school facilities. “It’s the same as how the drug-free-schools prohibition has cut down on drug use and drugs being sold in school zones. I thought this would be more effective than having schools issue miscellaneous regulations.”

Kory said the legislation was aimed at adults and students over age 18; younger people already are legally prohibited from smoking.