Ban smoking on school campuses
Thanks to Pasco school superintendent Kurt Browning for his continued support of school health programs. As a former school nurse, I've seen firsthand how health and learning go hand in hand.
Pasco has some work to do, however, when it comes to teaching our children to make healthy choices. More than 90 percent of current smokers began smoking before the age of 18. Since children spend much of their day in school, it is critical that adults model healthy behaviors. Yet half of our schools continue to allow smoking by staff and faculty on campus. According to the Centers for Disease Control, best practices for preventing tobacco use by children include prohibiting tobacco use among staff, parents, and visitors on school grounds. Pinellas and Hillsborough counties already have comprehensive tobacco-free policies. It's time for Pasco to meet the same level of responsibility.
The School Health Advisory Committee favors rewording language in the master contract for the United School Employees of Pasco to reflect the desires of the majority of staff and faculty at each individual campus. As it now stands, just one smoker has the ability to decide whether the school will or will not permit tobacco use by staff on campus. This is a great injustice to Pasco's school employees, but most importantly, to the children.
Schools that are not tobacco free send conflicting messages to students about the dangers of tobacco use. It's time to teach Pasco's youth about socially responsible and healthy behaviors, including not using tobacco. Teaching by example is the first step in doing so.
Lynn Landseadel, Spring Hill