N.J. Gov. Signs Major Dormitory Safety Legislation

August 23, 2005

Acting New Jersey Gov. Richard J. Codey this week signed legislation to prohibit smoking in public and private college and university dormitories.

“Today we are creating safer, healthier residence halls,” Codey said. “Prohibiting smoking greatly reduces the risk of fires and creates a comfortable environment, free of dangerous secondhand smoke.”

Codey signed Senate bill S2332 at Drew University in Madison. Codey was joined by bill sponsor Senator Barbara Buono, as well as State Health Commissioner Fred Jacobs, M.D., J.D. Other primary bill sponsors include Senator Fred Madden (D-Camden, Gloucester), Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Essex) and Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen).

“College students will be able to breathe easier this fall, both from the cleaner air in their rooms and the knowledge that one more safety hazard has been reduced,” said Buono (D-Middlesex). “Students at our colleges and universities should realize that while they have the right to choose to smoke and chance the risks that come along with it, those who live in the same dorm shouldn’t have to deal with the hazards of cigarette smoke. By requiring smokers to go outside to light up, we are drastically reducing the chance of a fire and reduce others exposure to secondhand smoke.”

This is the first law in the nation to prohibit smoking in both private and public institutions.

This law reportedly will significantly reduce fire risk on campus. Smoking is currently the second leading cause of fire injuries on campus. Additionally, it will also reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, which reportedly kills more than 1,000 New Jerseyans annually.

On Feb. 14, 2005, a cigarette ignited a dorm fire at Drew University, bringing attention to the dangers of smoking in college residential housing. Previously, state law allowed colleges and universities to designate smoking in specific dorm rooms and allowed students to choose whether they lived with a smoker or non-smoker.

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