In spite of the widespread postings of signs banning its use, spectators at area high school football games have been seen using tobacco products in clear violation of the schools’ tobacco use ordinance. Tobacco use at sporting events was among the topics of discussion at the Kids’ Policy Council Coalition’s annual strategic meeting on how to lessen youth substance abuse. Tobacco use – both cigs and in smokeless tobacco products – has been saw by multiple committee members and Star-News staff members at recent football games. Two had seen cigarette smoking inside the stadium at three different high schools, while another reportedly witnessed those with “dip” or a tobacco chew inside their mouths, also while at the sporting events.
Tobacco smoking is banned on all school areas not only in Covington County, but also across the state and the nation. Each of the county’s three school systems has specific legislation in place to deal with tobacco smoking on school properties.
In Andalusia, the use of any tobacco product is strictly prohibited on all school system property and is prohibited at all school related activities and events, Superintendent Ted Watson declared. The policy applies to all employees, students, sales people and visitors.
There is a discipline scale for student violators; but, enforcing the school’s no-tobacco law is one of the main reasons city police officers attend games, Watson added.
Smoking warnings are also posted on all doors, and violators will be asked to leave, he argued.
“It’s very easy to enforce the policy in an inside place because the activity is smaller and the smoke tobacco evident,” Watson said. “It’s difficult when have outdoor event, especially given the size of the stadium and the number of the people. We do have law there, and inhabitants know that smoking tobacco is banned. There are smoke-free signs everywhere, acting as reminders that tobacco smoking is not acceptable at any school activities.”
Watson explained that the same rule applies to the coaching staff.