Tuesday, May 16

Illinois bans smoking in all college dormitories          Send a link to a friend

[MAY 16, 2006]  SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich signed a new law Monday to reduce the risk of secondhand smoke and smoking-related fires by banning smoking in dormitories at all public and private colleges and universities in the state.

"When parents send their kids off to college, they want them to be safe. Cigarettes are one of the leading causes of dorm fires, and this law could help prevent future tragedies," said Blagojevich.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, smoking is the third-leading cause of fires in U.S. college dorms. In addition, college students who live in smoke-free dorms are 40 percent less likely to begin smoking than students who live in unrestricted housing, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

Senate Bill 2465, sponsored by Rep. John Fritchey, D-Chicago, and Sen. John Cullerton, D-Chicago, amends the Illinois Clean Indoor Air Act. Effective immediately, the bill prohibits smoking in public and private college and university dorms. It applies to dining facilities, laundry rooms, lobbies, hallways and other areas. Only commercial facilities such as coffee shops and restaurants are exempt from the law. Aside from dorms, it also includes sorority and fraternity houses that are owned and operated by a university.

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"I am pleased that Illinois has taken this step in making dorm life safer for our students," said Fritchey. "Not only is smoking the third-leading cause of fires in U.S. dorms, but evidence continues to mount regarding the dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke. As such, this new law has multiple health and safety benefits for students living in dorms on Illinois campuses."

"Cigarette smoking poses a significant health and safety risk for everyone on campus," Cullerton said. "Simple separation of smokers and nonsmokers within the same airspace is not enough. It's important that all students have the opportunity to live in a healthy, smoke-free environment."

Last year the governor signed a bill that allows home-rule municipalities to prohibit smoking in public places. Illinois joins several others states that have banned smoking in college dorms, including Wisconsin, New Jersey and Connecticut.

[News release from the governor's office]


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