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Proposed smoking bill makes sense

Publication Date: 2011-01-13
  • Author:Jan Schultz
  • Publication:The Imperial Republican

A bill introduced this week in the Nebraska Legislature addresses smoking on school property, and is one that likely won’t have a lot of opposition.

LB 313, introduced by Omaha Sen. Jeremy Nordquist, if passed, would make Nebraska’s public schools, and the property they sit on, entirely 100% tobacco free. The measure would extend that smoke-free requirement to off-campus school-sponsored events.

Supt. Matt Fisher said Chase County Schools is 100% smoke-free in its school buildings. If passed, LB 313 would further eliminate smoking outside of the buildings on school grounds.

As an example, smoking outside the school doors at halftime of a basketball game would no longer be allowed. Fisher said he believes most people don’t smoke at football games or track meets, even though they are “outside” the school buildings.

This legislation would extend to parking lots, it’s assumed, since those are also on school property.

Sen. Nordquist makes a good point in introducing this legislation.

“Schools cannot teach about the dangers of tobacco use and at the same time, allow students, staff and visitors to continue” smoke on some areas of school property.

He said adults and others in positions of authority may set a bad example when they smoke, leading some youths to underestimate the consequences of tobacco use.

Here are some facts from Tobacco Free Nebraska (2008 figures):

* 77.5 percent of Nebraska schools do not prohibit tobacco use at all times in all locations (campus-wide, or at off-campus school-sponsored events);

* 36.7 percent of schools do not prohibit tobacco use for all on school grounds;

* 4.1 percent of schools do not prohibit smoking in school buildings; and

* 7.8% of schools do not prohibit smoking on school busses.

Senators would be wise to pass this legislation quickly. Much more time will be necessary on dealing with the state’s budget concerns.

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