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Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : Schools Consider Ban on Outdoor Smoking : Health: William S. Hart district trustees may extend policy to sports events. Special funding requires progress toward a tobacco-free environment.

August 24, 1993|DOUGLAS ALGER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

SANTA CLARITA — Smoking may be prohibited at outdoor sporting events on local high school and junior high campuses next month.

Wednesday night, trustees of the William S. Hart Union High School District will consider expanding the ban that now bars smoking indoors at school-sponsored activities.

The proposal stems from Tobacco Use and Prevention Education funding that the district has been receiving since 1990.

"When you receive those funds, you need to have your school district move toward becoming tobacco-free," said William White, district administrator of educational services.

The Hart district has received about $30,000 per year since 1990 and will continue to do so for three years, White said. The revenue must be used for efforts to reduce smoking, and districts accepting the funds are required to be tobacco-free by June, 1996.

Students cannot smoke on campus when school is in session under district policy adopted five years ago, White said, and school employees are limited to designated areas on campus. The amended ban would extend to extracurricular activities.

Campus smoking bans are common throughout the state.

Schools have a wide latitude to restrict smoking under the Education Code, said Steve Horowitz, spokesman for the Los Angeles County office of education.

Although a smoker for more than 40 years, Trustee John Hassel believes that the ban is a good idea.

"I think it probably serves as a good example to youth, to not show (smoking) as the norm," Hassel said.

"As a chronic smoker, you've kind of caught me at a crossroads. I may have to attend events with patches on," Hassel quipped, referring to nicotine patches designed to wean smokers from cigarettes.

If approved, the smoking ban would take effect at the beginning of the school year next month. School officials do not expect the restriction to affect attendance or the extracurricular activities themselves.

"To be honest, I don't think it's a major problem," White said. "I don't think there are too many people smoking outdoors anyway."

Hassel said he has not received much public comment either in favor or against the suggested ban.

Current anti-smoking efforts in Santa Clarita extend beyond school campuses.

The City Council tonight is scheduled to discuss a proposal to forbid smoking in restaurants and enclosed workplaces but exempt bars, private residences, hotels and outdoor areas.

Santa Clarita would become the third municipality in Los Angeles County to impose such a ban, joining Long Beach and Whittier.

The suggested school and city bans are unrelated, White said.

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