The state Board of Education today voted to ban anyone -- teachers, staff and students -- from smoking on public school grounds during the school day.
The sweeping ban, which still faces review by a legislative committee, would even preclude anyone from lighting up outside.
"It's an issue of health," said board member Harry D. Shapiro. "I don't smoke. But I'm at risk from second-hand smoke."
Under current regulations, students are forbidden from smoking inside school buildings. The new regulation would extend that ban to outside grounds, and teachers and staff members would be prohibited from smoking as well.
A legislative oversight committee could ask the board to make changes in the regulation, but the board and Gov. William Donald Schaefer would make the final decision.
State teachers object to the ban, saying the smoking issue should be negotiated between school boards and teacher associations in each county. Teachers would like to see counties offer a program to help them quit smoking before a ban goes into effect. And even if a ban is imposed inside the building, determined smokers should be allowed to smoke outside, said Roger Kuhn, a spokesman for the Maryland State Teachers Association.
The only board member voting against the ban was John C. Sprague, a smoker, who called the measure an inappropriate exercise in behavior modification.
Principals, Mr. Sprague added, may be forced to discipline otherwise fine teachers for sneaking cigarettes on school grounds.