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Where There's Smoke, There's Teachers

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For a group of teachers at the Lincoln (Neb.) High School, the start of school this fall brought a potentially unnerving austerity measure--a districtwide ban on the use of tobacco products in school buildings.

Fortunately for those who blanched at the thought of long, nicotineless work days, though, Jim Stork had spotted a small vacant apartment across the street from the school. For just $225 a month, the social-studies teacher was able to rent a place where devotees of Nicotiana tabacum could find mid-day refuge.

So far, more than a dozen other teachers and paraprofessionals have joined Mr. Stork in sharing the rent on his smokers' hideaway. In fact, he said, four of those in the group are nonsmokers, who have joined to protest the district ban.

But Mr. Stork conceded that the ban was probably imposed with good reason. While the teachers' lounge at his school was big enough to be divided into smoking and nonsmoking sides, he said, smaller schools in the district could not provide adequate space for smokers. "Perhaps because of that," Mr. Stork surmised, "the district opted to totally ban smoking."

Principal Sam Nelson has not opposed the hideaway, Mr. Stork said, adding that the principal "probably feels that as long as teachers continue to do their jobs well, it's not a problem."

The apartment never gets excessively thick with smoke, Mr. Stork reported, since only three or four people are there at any given time because of staggered lunch hours. And, it goes without saying, the windows are kept as wide open as possible.--jw

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