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Vitale Bill To Allow State Psychiatric Hospitals To Ban Smoking Clears Senate

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale, which would allow State psychiatric hospitals to ban on-campus smoking, as long as a smoking cessation program is offered for clients, patient and employees was approved today by the full Senate by a vote of 25-11.

“This bill would do for residents at psychiatric hospitals what they and others around the world might not be able to do for themselves – stop smoking,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, who chairs the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “Statistics have shown that the impact of cigarettes and nicotine at psychiatric facilities is higher for a number of reasons, including deeper inhalation, and the increased negative effect that nicotine can have when combined with psychotropic drugs.”

Senator Vitale’s bill, S-625, would call upon the Commissioners of Health and Senior Services and Personnel to develop the smoking cessation program. Facilities would be required to initiate a smoking cessation program one year before implementing the smoking ban, and to continue offering the program once the ban is in effect.

“Last year, Southern Ocean County Health Systems (SOCHS) banned smoking at all of their five campuses. They have set a precedent here in New Jersey by taking a stand against smoking, and the State should follow suit,” Senator Vitale said.

Published reports note that in New York, smoking bans have led to nearly 4,000 fewer hospital admissions for heart attack patients than in 2004. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is one of the main causes of heart disease, said Senator Vitale.

“By nature, hospitals are designed to protect the health of patients, and with this legislation, we are taking a stand to ensure that facilities in New Jersey do just that,” said Senator Vitale.

This measure was approved by the Senate Health panel on January 24. It now heads to the Assembly for approval.


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