STATE – New Jersey earned a “A” for its smoke free air laws, but got an “F” for its spending levels on tobacco prevention and control programs in the American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control 2010 report. The state was downgraded from an “A” to a “B” for its cigarette tax, but the report found that found New Jersey offered virtually no change in protecting its residents from the harm of tobacco use.
“New Jersey has to move forward with renewed resolve to reduce the devastating levels of death and disease caused by tobacco use,” said Deb Brown, president and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic, which includes New Jersey. “Some of the toughest tobacco control legislation in our history has been enacted with the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act and the new healthcare law, but it is not enough. States like New Jersey have to seal the deal on tobacco control.”
In 2010, the American Lung Association in New Jersey pushed for a tax increase on tobacco as well as an increase in the tobacco retailer’s license fee, but was unsuccessful in its efforts. New Jersey also eliminated the majority of state funding for the state’s Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program, which does not support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation funding nor support a comprehensive program according to the American Lung Association report.
“Our latest surgeon general’s report on tobacco use concluded that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco,” said Brown. “In New Jersey, 11,201 deaths are attributed to smoking. In addition, it costs the state’s economy $5.6 billion annually in healthcare costs and lost productivity. Adequately-funded investments in the prevention of tobacco use as well as comprehensive cessation coverage would not only save lives, but states like New Jersey would see real economic benefits.”
Another Lung Association study, Smoking Cessation: The Economic Benefits, found that if states were to invest in comprehensive smoking cessation benefits, it would receive a return on investment. In New Jersey, for every dollar spent on helping smokers quit, the Garden State would see on average a return of $1.34.
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