Assembly Votes to Bar Student Smoking Areas

Times Staff Writer

A bill that would eliminate student smoking areas in high schools and prohibit pupils from possessing or using tobacco products on campus or at school-sponsored events was approved with no votes to spare Wednesday by the Assembly.

The Assembly voted 41 to 23, the exact majority required, to approve the measure by Assemblyman William J. Filante (R-Greenbrae). However, opponents blocked, at least temporarily, transmission of the bill to Gov. George Deukmejian, by serving notice that they wanted the action reconsidered later.

Proponents argued that the bill was necessary to remove a "hypocrisy" in state law that already makes it illegal to sell cigarettes and other tobacco products to minors.

Cites 'Hypocrisy'

"The bottom line is hypocrisy with which we're dealing. It's illegal for a person to give or sell tobacco products to minors and then we tell them it's OK to smoke (on school grounds)," Filante said.

But opponents, such as Assemblyman Thomas M. Hannigan (D-Fairfield) contended that the decision should be left to local school districts.

"This is a head-in-the-sand approach to the problem. If we eliminate the option of a smoking area, all we do is drive smoking into the restrooms," he said.

No L.A. Schools Permit It

About half of California's 1,096 school districts currently allow smoking in designated campus areas. None of the 49 high schools in the Los Angeles City School District permit smoking on campus.

Eight years ago the Legislature authorized local school districts to establish student smoking areas on campus. However, concerns about the health effects of smoking and smokeless tobacco products such as snuff have caused many lawmakers to have second thoughts.

In addition to banning smoking on campus, the Filante bill would also subject students possessing tobacco products to suspension or expulsion from school and would prohibit tobacco at school-sponsored functions.

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