Tobacco-control report card gives F to NJ … even with new vape rules
New Jersey receives mostly "F" grades in a report card that analyzes states' efforts to reduce and prevent the use of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.
The 18th annual State of Tobacco Control report from the American Lung Association, released Wednesday, urges the Garden State to increase its tax on all tobacco products, and get funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs to the level recommended by the federal government.
"In New Jersey our adult tobacco product use rate remains at 17.2%," said Michael Seilback, the Association's national assistant vice president for state public policy. "Sadly, with the youth vaping epidemic still rising, we may have lost an opportunity to make the current generation of kids the first tobacco-free generation."
Seilback recognized the signing of a law in January that bans flavored vaping products come April in New Jersey, but said the Association "wants to see more" in the way of a comprehensive flavored-tobacco ban, such as what's in place in Massachusetts.
In the report, which gives grades across five categories, New Jersey received two "A" grades — for the strength of its smokefree workplace laws, and a minimum age of 21 for tobacco purchases.
The state received an "F" for coverage and access to services to quit tobacco; funding for state tobacco prevention programs; and the level of state tobacco taxes.
"We want to see New Jersey increase its price on a pack of cigarettes by a dollar, at least," Seilback said. "Because we know that for every 10% that you increase the price of cigarettes, you see a 7% reduction (in usage) among kids and a 4% reduction among adults."
Funding in New Jersey for tobacco prevention and cessation, beyond federal help, comes from a dedication of cigarette tax revenues, the result of a law passed in 2017. This is an improvement from the start of last decade and beyond, when the state contributed zero dollars, the report said, but it remains far short of the funding level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The report puts smoking-related health care costs in the state at more than $4 billion.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at email@example.com.