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New Jersey Is Last State to Insist at Gas Stations: Don’t Touch That Pump

New Jersey Is Last State to Insist at Gas Stations: Don’t Touch That Pump


And when she takes off her polling hat, Ms. Koning said, she is one of those women.

“As a Jersey Girl, I’m definitely not for it,” she said. “Jersey is very proud and one of the things it’s proud of is not having to pump its own gas.”

Some pollsters have stopped asking the question altogether. Krista Jenkins, the director of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s polling unit, said that it had not come up since 2012 because “it hasn’t really been that much of a debate.”

In that year, the university found that 63 percent of voters supported the law and only 23 percent opposed it, with a similarly exaggerated gender gap.

Ms. Jenkins grew up in Southern California, and pumped her own gas.

“But,” she said, “in the dead of winter when you don’t have to get out of your car, it’s a lovely feature of living in the state.”

The response of some Oregon residents to that state’s loosening of restrictions may not encourage change in Jersey. A widely shared tweet highlighted comments on a local news story from Medford, in Jackson County, Oregon. Among residents’ concerns were “smelling of gas when I get it on my hands or clothes” and the potential health effects of breathing in small amounts over time.

New Jersey legislators cited safety concerns when they passed the original law that barred residents from pumping gas almost 70 years ago. But when gas station owners challenged the ban in 1951, the state’s Supreme Court ruled that self-serve was indeed “dangerous in use.” And the ban held up, despite attempts to fight it in the 1980s.

In the rest of the country, self-service stations became the norm. Safer unleaded gasoline became more common, thanks to federal regulations, as did pumps that accepted credit cards. In most of the United States, that spelled the end of an era when attendants offered to wipe your windshield and check your oil while the tank filled up and you fumbled for a tip.





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