LETTER – bill banning smokeless tobacco in schools earns committee approval


The use of smokeless tobacco on public school grounds is prohibited by legislation sponsored by Assemblyman David C. Russo and passed today by the Assembly Education Committee. Russo’s bill (A493) establishes escalating fines for any violation of the prohibition. It advanced by a 9-0 vote.

“According to experts, more than one in seven high school boys use smokeless tobacco. We want to stop that number from growing,” said Russo (R—Bergen). “Users are up to 50 times more likely to get oral cancer, due to the presence of almost 30 known carcinogens in smokeless tobacco.”

Smokeless tobacco is popular with professional and amateur baseball players, and Hall-of-Famer Tony Gwynn died at age 54 from oral cancer related to his use of chewing tobacco. The NCAA has banned smokeless tobacco in college athletics.

“Smokeless tobacco is addictive. Once someone gets started, it is a tough habit to break,” added Russo. “There can be severe physical consequences, and we want to keep it out of our schools.”

The Senate version of the bill, S-293, passed 35-2 in May 2016.