Local News

Proposed No Smoking Law At Schools Could Soon Apply To Teachers

Posted April 24, 2003 12:55 p.m. EDT

— Teachers may have one more reason to kick the habit soon. State lawmakers may make it illegal for anyone to smoke anywhere on campus.

Those rules are already in place at Cooper Elementary School in Johnston County.

"No one is allowed to smoke on campus during or after school, even if we have an afterschool event," principal Julie Jailall said.

The staff at Cooper said it is important for students to have adult role models like teachers who do not smoke. They hope as the kids get older and peer pressure grows stronger, they will be able to make healthy choices.

"So when they see adults they respect and look up to being drug-free, it's a really good message," guidance counselor Jocelle Flores said.

That message may be a hard sell in a tobacco state. Opponents say it could keep good teachers out of the classroom.

"I think if you really want to keep a job and work at a school and working with kids and have your dreams met, that is something you'd have to consider seriously," Jailall said.

Jailall also said, in seven years, her school's no-smoking policy has not caused any problems. She hopes it has prevented some of her young students from becoming teen smokers.

The bill would allow smoking on campus at paid events, such as a football game.

Smoking in restaurants is also a hot issue with a lot of people. Six states ban it all together. Thirty others have restrictions. North Carolina is one of 14 states where there are no sweeping rules on the books. Individual restaurants make their own decisions.