After hearing from 20 students, parents and teachers in a packed meeting room, the Wayne Township School Board voted unanimously Monday to ban tobacco products on all school property.
Until now, Wayne Township was the only school district in Marion County without a total tobacco ban. Smoking has been prohibited in all buildings, and students — even those 18 or older — also have not been allowed to smoke.
But smoking was permitted in certain areas.
The board had been expected by some to approve not a tobacco ban, but instead to sign off on language recommended by its attorney to bring the district's policy in line with state law. That would have moved smokers away from entrances but still allowed tobacco use on school grounds.
However, a groundswell of opposition to any tobacco use on school grounds gained momentum, expanding to include other property, such as district vehicles, as well as school events.
I'm a bit surprised that the article didn't include claims that non-smokers were exposed to "dangerous" secondhand smoke as they walked by smokers congregated outside. The claim is nonsense. Epidemiology studies show the risk factor for secondhand smoke to be only around 1.3, far below the 2.0 level considered sufficient to prove causation and far below the 9.0 risk factor involved in smoking cigarettes. The carbon monoxide that fills the air as cars idle at pickups and dropoffs at the schools pose a much greater danger than secondhand cigarette smoke.
In related news, the 7th Circuit yesterday upheld Indianapolis smoking ban which was extended in 2012 to include bars. Mark Small was lead counsel for the bar plaintiffs and I acted as second chair on the case.. That may prove to be a short-lived victory, however. Several weeks ago, the Indiana Supreme Court heard oral argument on the Evansville smoking ban. It appeared from the oral argument that the Court is leaning strongly toward striking down the ban because of the inclusion of exceptions in that law, which exceptions Indianapolis' ban also includes. During the oral argument, the focus was on the Privileges and Immunities Clause in Indiana's constitution, a provision that acts in a way similar to the federal equal protection clause but has been interpreted to provide more protection against unequal treatment. Because states have absolute power to interpret their own constitution, an Indiana Supreme Court ruling that the state constitution prohibits smoking bans with exceptions in the Evansville case would likely doom the Indianapolis smoking ban as well.