ALBANY The American Lung Association of New York State today applauded the New York State Assembly and Senate for acting to protect college students from deadly secondhand smoke. Sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and Senator Vincent Leibell, this legislation (A.538a/S.1955a) prohibits smoking in dormitories and other group residential facilities of public and private colleges and universities in New York. "Secondhand tobacco smoke kills," said Michael Seilback, Senior Director of Public Policy and Advocacy. "College students should end their academic careers with a diploma, not an increased risk of cancer due to years of secondhand smoke exposure." In fact, secondhand smoke is responsible for 54,000 deaths each year in the United States. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies secondhand smoke as a "Group A" known carcinogen. Moreover, there is no safe level of exposure to "Group A" carcinogens like secondhand tobacco smoke. This category is reserved for the most dangerous cancer-causing chemicals and includes such toxins as benzene and asbestos. Exposure to secondhand smoke during everyday activities can lead to a much higher lifetime risk of lung cancer. Secondhand smoke has also been scientifically linked to contributing and causing dozens of diseases and illnesses including asthma, heart disease, respiratory tract infections and ear infections. The tobacco industry has increased significantly its advertising and marketing campaigns at the 18-24 year old age group. "Although smoking among college students continues to increase, college students are 47 percent less likely to smoke if they live in smokefree dorms" added Seilback. On January 11, 2007, the New York State Board of Regents voted to ban smoking in all dormitories on the State University campuses. Once signed into law by Governor David Paterson, this measure will extend smokefree living conditions to students in private colleges and universities.