HUNTINGTON BEACH : Board Scales Back School Smoking Ban

The Ocean View School District board has scaled back its plans for a sweeping smoking ban, instead supporting a proposed smoking prohibition on all school property.

The measure would make Ocean View the first non-collegiate Orange County school district to forbid smoking everywhere on its sites, a move that some officials believe may touch off a wave of smoke-free policies at districts throughout the county.

The Board of Trustees late Tuesday informally voted 3 to 2 to back a smoking ban on any school property during school hours. The board majority overruled a proposal supported by Trustees Sheila Marcus and Elizabeth A. Spurlock to enforce the ban at all times and extend the smoke-free zones 1,000 feet beyond district property.

The compromise persuaded Trustee Janet Garrick, the only member who had stopped short of immediately backing Marcus' original proposal, to join her colleagues in supporting the policy.

"I hate Big Brother telling me every single thing I can do," Garrick said, but she said the policy will "send a message" to students that nicotine is an addictive drug.

Trustees are tentatively scheduled to consider adopting the measure at their Oct. 23 meeting. Officials have not yet decided when the policy would take effect.

If Ocean View approves the measure, similar to a resolution adopted Sept. 10 by the Los Angeles Unified School District board, officials at other Orange County school districts have said they would probably follow suit, said John Thomas, the district's administrator of pupil personnel. Thomas said that during the past week he has interviewed dozens of district officials throughout the county on the smoking issue.

Currently, the Fountain Valley School District has the most comprehensive anti-smoking policy. It forbids anyone from smoking inside school buildings, but allows employees to smoke at designated outdoor areas as long as they are out of the sight of students.

Among the county's higher-education districts, only the Coast Community College District prohibits smoking on all its sites.

As proposed, the Ocean View policy would eliminate designated smoking areas for teachers, maintenance workers, administrators and other employees now in place at many of the district's schools. The ban would apply to all areas at the district office and 17 school sites.

Marcus and Spurlock, who disagree on most policy issues, united in a plea to expand the ban so it would apply even to adults attending a weekend Little League game on an Ocean View school field.

"I don't want to see some Little League coach out there smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer on school property," said Marcus, a former smoker whose mother died of a smoking-related ailment. "This is hallowed ground as far as health issues are concerned."

Osterlund, although a staunch supporter of a districtwide smoking ban, led the drive among trustees to limit the scope of the measure. He argued that implementing a policy that applied beyond school property boundaries and would be effective even on weekends would not be enforceable. "And when a board policy is so broad that it is unenforceable, that's excessive," he said.

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