(TRENTON) — Legislation Assemblywoman Elease Evans and Assemblyman John Wisniewski sponsored to create a special state task force to look at the issue of underage drinking at New Jersey’s colleges and universities is now law.

“Underage drinking at college may be seen as a rite of passage among students, but is increasingly becoming a leading public health and safety issue in our higher education system,” said Evans (D-Passaic). “But we have seen all too often the tragic and fatal effects when students drink too much, too fast. We need an honest, inclusive and wide-ranging discussion about how to best deal with underage alcohol consumption so we can prevent another needless death.”

The law (A-3974) creates the 22-member Task Force on Underage Drinking in Higher Education to study and develop recommendations to combat underage drinking at the state’s higher education institutions. Membership would include representatives from the state Commission on Higher Education and divisions of Alcoholic Beverage Control, Highway Traffic Safety and Addiction Services, as well as public members to include college administrators, faculty, law enforcement and students, and liquor store or bar owners, among others.

The task force is charged with releasing its findings within six months.

“Combating underage drinking is something that can’t be left to colleges or law enforcement alone, but that requires a comprehensive and inclusive approach,” said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). “The days of looking the other way and claiming it’s someone else’s fault are over. It’s time everyone gets on the same page to ensure more students don’t die from drinking too much.”

The bill was signed Saturday by acting Gov. Stephen Sweeney.

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