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Senate Panel Approves Bill To Prohibit Smoking In Dorms

TRENTON – The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee approved a measure by Senator Barbara Buono that would ban smoking in dorm rooms at all public universities and colleges throughout the state.

“Despite our efforts to education the youth of New Jersey to the dangers of tobacco, smoking is on the rise among college students,” With the growth of smoking among college students, we need to take a serious look at how smoking affects the college population in general,” said Senator Buono, D- Middlesex. “College students need to realize, when you are living in a dormitory, smoking doesn’t just impact the health of the smoker. Smoking poses a serious fire hazard and health risk to all residents in that dorm, both smoking and non-smoking. Students who choose not to smoke should not have to deal with these risks

Bill S-2332 would amend current law to prohibit smoking in any building used as a student dormitory that is owned and operated by a school or institution of higher education. Many institutions in the state and across the country already have bans in place on smoking in all buildings on campus, including private rooms in residence halls. Several states have enacted legislation similar to what Senator Buono has proposed. The administrations at these schools claim that a prohibition on smoking in residence halls reduces cleaning fees, maintenance fees and the risk of fire.

Senator Buono noted that there is growing concern about the higher numbers of college aged smokers. While smoking in the general population has declined in recent years, a study conducted by researchers at Harvard University found that smoking among college students has increased 28% in 6 years. The study reports that close to 30% of all college students now smoke.

“I’m sure there are going to be some students who will protest that we are invading their personal space with this bill,” added Senator Buono. “But these students need to realize that their actions can have harmful consequences on those individuals who share their dorm. Second-hand smoke is a real danger, and the way in which the air in many residence halls is circulated exposes non-smokers to the carcinogens found in cigarette smoke.”

Senate Bill 2332 passed the committee unanimously. It now goes to the full Senate for their approval.

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