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Action urged to enforce smoking ban

Thomas Fiegl and other leaders in the Lockport School District have had enough when it comes to smokers who ignore the smoking ban on school grounds.

Fiegl and other members of the School Board readopted the district policy last week after sharing stories about having to ask people to stop smoking on school property and in school buildings.

"One flagrant violation was at George Southard Elementary School," said Fiegl, a retired police captain. "I went to a program out there and saw a grandfather smoking.

"I walked up to him, introduced myself and told him I was a board member. When I told him smoking was not allowed on school property, he said 'Tough.' That was his comment. So I said again, 'Sir, you can't smoke here.' He said, 'Tough' again, walked away from me and continued to smoke."

In another situation, he found a police officer smoking at the school during an emergency exercise.

He said something should be done to enforce the policy.

"I would encourage anybody who is a board member and runs into a situation like that -- and we do have them -- that we try to do something about it."

Superintendent Terry Ann Carbone, who reported seeing a person smoking while going into a play at Lockport High School, said, "We have 'No Smoking' signs at school buildings and even a sign saying, 'Smoke Free Facility' " at the district's administrative office building on Beattie Avenue.

But, she said, that is not always enough.

She said the board readopted the no-smoking policy as a reminder that people should be courteous, follow the rules, and consider the health and welfare of students and staff.

"Smoking is dangerous," she added.

As for enforcement, she said she believes, as Fiegl indicated, that a polite request to stop smoking works with almost everyone.

"I think if there are habitual violations by the same person, we would have to deal with it more seriously," she said.

She said an employee caught in violation could always be reprimanded or subjected to disciplinary action, a situation she never expects to occur. She said habitual violations by a visitor could result in having that individual escorted off school property.

She said she and the board understand that this is a big change for some people.

"People who have lived for many, many years in a culture where smoking was normal, they have a very hard time changing those kinds of behaviors," Carbone said. "This is going to be a process, but clearly there is to be no smoking on school property."

e-mail: pwestmoore@buffnews.com

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