If students at the two Jessamine County high schools are found with cigarettes or any kind of tobacco product while on campus, they can face a fine up to $150.
East Jessamine High started issuing tickets a few years ago, and West Jessamine joined the effort last month, reports Jim Warren of the Lexington Herald-Leader. Since it was implemented, the number of students caught with the contraband items has gone down at East, with 120 incidents in 2009-09 and 149 in 2009-10. “Last year, we only had 39,” Principal Janet Granada said. “Once the word spreads that there’s a fine involved, it seems to lessen smoking greatly.”
The idea came from Billy King, a school resource officer at East Jessamine High. “We recognized we had a problem with minors using tobacco,” he said. “I felt that it would prevent them from bringing tobacco to school if they knew they could get a fine. But I also knew that they probably didn’t think it would happen. Police generally don’t cite juveniles for tobacco possession, even though the law has been on the books forever.”
King posted signs around the school warning students of the possibility of a fine. A few weeks later, he started handing out tickets. “The word got around pretty quickly,” he said. School resource officers write up the citations, which are referred to juvenile court. Fines are paid to the court, so the schools have no financial incentive to issue the citations.
Though many school districts in Kentucky have adopted tobacco-free policies on their campuses, Lisa Gross, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Education said this is the first she’s heard of students being given a fine. (Read more)