Kingsport schools ban all forms of smoking, tobacco

Rick Wagner • May 5, 2013 at 11:45 PM

KINGSPORT — There’ll be no more blowing smoke at Dobyns-Bennett High School football games, even if it is water vapor from an electronic cigarette.

Kingsport City Schools no smoking and tobacco policy now bans the public use of electronic cigarettes or any smoking device in athletic stadiums.

The Board of Education in regular session Thursday night voted 5-0 to adopt a series of policy changes including an amendment of its tobacco policy in the “adults” section.

As amended and approved by the board, the policy says:

“ADULTS — including staff, those involved in adult programs or other activities, and spectators — are not permitted to use tobacco in the buildings of the system, or on school buses, either during or after school hours. The use of tobacco products by KCS employees while supervising students is prohibited.”

That was already in the policy, but the following was added:

“Smoking is prohibited in any public seating area and public restrooms on school grounds, including, but not limited to, bleachers used for sporting events. It is the intent of the Board that there be a ‘no smoking’ policy within the fenced-in perimeters of the system’s athletic fields.

“Smoking includes but is not limited to: cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and other devices that produce smoke, and also includes gases, particles, or vapors. Smoking also includes simulated smoking such as an electronic cigarette, including e-cigarette, e-cigar, e-pipe, or under any other product name.”

The policy earlier states that the use of tobacco is prohibited in all school buildings and that students shall not be allowed at any time “to use or possess tobacco on school property or while they participate in any class or activity in which they represent the school system.”

Marybeth McLain, the system’s communications editor, said the amendment specifying no stadium smoking and banning electronic smoking devices was suggested by City Attorney Mike Billingsley and Tammie Davis, school system director of employee support and human resources.

D-B Principal Chris Hampton said he was unaware of any widespread complaints about cigarette smoke — electronic or otherwise — at D-B games, although BOE member Susan Lodal said she’s heard complaints and last fall experienced secondhand smoke firsthand during a D-B football game at J. Fred Johnson Stadium.

Asked about enforcement, McLain said no smoking signs and “common courtesy” likely would suffice.

Lodal said the smoke she smelled seemed to come from near the bleachers. She acknowledged the policy doesn’t ban the public from smoking in the parking lots or outside the stadium, although student smoking would be prohibited by the policy and Tennessee law prohibits smoking by anyone younger than 18.

It also prohibits smoking in many public places, including schools, nursing homes and restaurants, although bars have an exception, as do some businesses that employ a small number of people and have a garage door.

Lodal said the thought might be that electronic devices that emit water vapor would be difficult to distinguish from real cigarettes.

Among other policies approved Thursday, the BOE:

•Changed the “Drug-Free Workplace” policy, as recommended by Billingsley and Davis, to say employee use of illegal drugs “on board property, including a school building or bus, on any school campus, grounds, recreation area, athletic fields or any other property owned, used or operated by the Board of Education is absolutely prohibited; moreover, these conditions apply to employees while on duty, whether on or off Board property.”

•Changes the requirement for the school system to keep “all non-spam emails sent and/or received on the system for a minimum of 12 months” in the old policy to 90 days, “in accordance with Records Management for Municipal Governments” and upon Billingsley’s recommendation.

Superintendent Lyle Ailshie said the change will save server space and thus money for the system and that only time such emails are needed for a longer period of time are in cases of litigation and that they can be recovered for that.

The above policies and others approved are final, but two more — one a new code of ethics and the other charter schools policy, both needed to comply with Tennessee law — will undergo a second and final reading in June.

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