School board mulls updates to district tobacco policies

Changes include banning clothing promoting tobacco use and adding language about electronic smoking devices.

A prohibition of apparel promoting tobacco use and the inclusion of language about electronic cigarettes are among updates the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education is considering making to the district’s tobacco policies.

The board is considering changes to the district’s “Tobacco-Free Schools” policy, which applies to employees of the school district, and to the district’s “Tobacco” policy, which applies to students.

The district’s “Tobacco-Free Schools” policy says that district employees should be “role models” for students by acting in a way that discourages tobacco use.

Changes to that policy, if approved, would update the board’s policy to clearly prohibit district administrators, staff and visitors from promoting, using, selling or displaying tobacco products on KPBSD property or at school events. The changes would also add a section to the policy clarifying that KPBSD staff are not allowed to accept gifts from the tobacco industry.

Other changes would include stating that staff aren’t allowed to use tobacco products in KPBSD vehicles while students are under their care and adding “electronic smoking devices” to a statement about the health risks of using tobacco products.

“The Board recognizes its responsibility to promote the health, welfare and safety of students, staff and others on District property and at school-sponsored activities,” reads a proposed introduction to the revised policy.

The second set of policy revisions would update the district’s “Tobacco” policy to prohibit apparel that displays, promotes or advertises tobacco products on district grounds, in district vehicles and at school-sponsored activities. Apparel includes clothing, bags, hats and other personal items.

The district’s existing “Tobacco” policy does not address apparel, but says, among other things, that students are not allowed to partake in tobacco on school property, prohibits tobacco advertising in school buildings and at school-sponsored activities and describes the consequences for violation of the policy.

Proposed changes to the district’s existing “Tobacco” policy include allowing the district to provide “instruction” about the effects of tobacco use and to discourage tobacco use among students, to be provided at every grade level with “particular emphasis” on students in sixth, seventh and eighth grade.

All changes to district policy must be approved by the board of education to be implemented. More information on both policies can be found on the district’s BoardDocs page. The board’s next meeting is on Monday, July 12 at 6 p.m. in the Betty J. Glick Assembly Chambers in Soldotna.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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