Despite new law, NJ still poorly ranked for tobacco prevention spending
Even with a recent state law requiring that a certain percentage of tobacco taxes be dedicated to anti-smoking and cessation programs, New Jersey still ranks among the bottom third of states for the amount of money spent on tobacco prevention efforts.
According to a state-by-state analysis by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, New Jersey's $7.2 million being spent this year on tobacco prevention ranks 34th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The state's financial commitment to the issue amounts to 7 percent of the $103.3 billion the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends be spent in New Jersey.
The report estimates nearly $181 million will be spent by tobacco companies in New Jersey this fiscal year to market their products.
New Jersey had consistently ranked in this report among the very bottom of states, including a No. 48 ranking for Fiscal Year 2018, with $500,000 going out the door to address tobacco usage.
But with legislation signed into law in 2017, it was mandated that 1 percent of revenues from taxes on tobacco, e-cigarettes and wholesale tobacco products be automatically dedicated to the Department of Health to fund programs designed to prevent youth from getting hooked and help smokers drop the habit.
The DOH announced in November that $6.7 million would go toward projects to fight smoking and vaping among youth. Nearly $2 million was announced for 11 regional "quit centers," and $400,000 to promote smoking and vaping policies in workplaces that employ a large number of young adults.
"There's a lot of follow-up that needs to be done to ensure that if you're putting money into this type of program that you're getting results," said Karen Blumenfeld, executive director of Summit-based Global Advisors on Smokefree Policy. "It's good that there's more funding ... Just let's hope that the programs will result in the changes that need to happen."
Blumenfeld said New Jersey adults were not represented well with the latest round of state funding.
Smoking kills approximately 11,800 New Jerseyans each year. The state's adult smoking rate of 14 percent is below the national average. The state's smoking rate among high-schoolers in 8.2 percent. More than 12 percent of high school students use e-cigarettes.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.