Re: Smoking Scouters
Peter Farnham (pfarnham@ASBMB.FASEB.ORG)
Fri, 11 Aug 1995 10:11:25 EST
From the current (1994) printing of "The Guide to Safe Scouting," page
"Adult leaders should support the attitude that young adults are
better off without tobacco and (boldface here, denoting national
policy) may not allow the use of tobacco products at any BSA activity
involving youth participants."
The use of the word "may" (instead of "shall" or "must") gives the
adult leader in charge the authority, it seems to me, to ban smoking
at BSA functions at his discretion, including troop meetings, camping
The general approach to adult smoking in the BSA that I am aware of
and follow is "if you must smoke, don't do it in front of the boys."
This seems reasonable to me. I smoked cigarettes for many years (quit
14 years ago) and except for a very occasional cigar (never smoked in
front of scouts), am smoke-free. However, I know how hard it is to
quit and so as long as the adult leaders who smoke do it out of the
presence of the youth, I have no problem with it.
I am far more concerned about youth smoking, and we haven't discussed
that at all since I've been on this list. Telling confirmed youth
smokers they are not to smoke usually results in them sneaking
cigarettes. I'd rather they do that, frankly, than smoke in front of
me; allowing them to smoke in front of me sends a clear and
umistakable signal that I condone it and I most assuredly do not.
But, short of conducting a minutely detailed shakedown (including body
searches--no doubt a youth protection violation), I don't know how to
keep them from bringing cigarettes with them on outings.
The situation is further complicated by the fact that in Virginia it
has been illegal for the past 10 years for persons under the age of 18
to purchase or possess tobacco products. While the law is not
enforced, and thus widely ignored, it still is on the books.
Thus if you catch youth smoking, you are left with calling the police,
telling their parents, or banning them from future outings--none of
which encourages them to stay in scouting, it seems to me. So, are we
just to write them off?
With respect for all of my colleagues out there in cyberspace, I think
it would be a far more productive use of our time to discuss this
issue, rather than continuing to brow-beat each other over our
personal smoking habits.
SM, Troop 113
GW District, NCAC
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City