News Release
   
   PO 360
   Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

   For Release:
May 1, 2001

Christine Grant
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Laura Otterbourg or Marilyn Riley
609-984-7160

 

DHSS Unveils Baseline Measures Report
for Monitoring Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program


TRENTON
- The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services today released the state's first comprehensive report on smoking rates among New Jersey residents, their attitudes about tobacco use, and tobacco control policies at work and at school.

"We need to see results from our tobacco control efforts - fewer smokers, more people quitting, less exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. This report gives us excellent baseline data showing where we stand now, so that we can judge our effectiveness over time," said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Christine Grant.

The baseline measures are critical to evaluating the effectiveness of New Jersey's $30 million Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program. It is the first in a series of reports that will track trends in the state and help guide future improvements in the tobacco control programs.

"New Jerseyans can be assured that this is and will be money well spent," Grant added. "We are one of the few states with an evaluation system built into our tobacco control program, and we intend to use it to find out what works and what doesn't."

Evaluation of the New Jersey Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program: Baseline Measures was prepared by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey - School of Public Health. It includes the results of surveys of young people, adults, pregnant women, and school officials, as well as the findings of a media tracking system on tobacco issues.

The state's tobacco control program is funded through the Master Settlement Agreement with the tobacco companies. Below are some highlights from the report.

Smoking and Quitting

According to the report, just over 18 percent of New Jersey adults smoke, a rate below the national average. However, the state's smoking rates vary by age and race. As the highlights show:

  • Young adults, ages 18 to 24, had a higher rate of cigarette use (28 percent) than all other adult age groups. White young adults had the highest rates of all (34 percent).
  • Smoking rates decreased with increasing age. Just under 8 percent of residents age 65 and over smoke.
  • Among pregnant women, nearly 19 percent smoked before becoming pregnant. The rate dropped to 9 percent during pregnancy, but increased to 14 percent afterward. White women had even higher rates before, during and after pregnancy.
  • Three quarters of young adults and pregnant women tried to quit in the past year.
  • Among school-age children, 10.5 percent of middle school students and nearly 28 percent of high school students were current cigarette smokers. More than half of youth smokers tried unsuccessfully to quit smoking in the previous year.

Environmental Tobacco Smoke

The report found that three-quarters of adults work at sites with a smoke-free policy, Two-thirds of adults said they have banned smoking in their homes. However, New Jersey's residents continue to be exposed to environmental tobacco smoke. Highlights include:

  • A third of workers in restaurants and bars, just over half of factory workers, and 80 percent of those working in hospitals reported their work places had smoke-free policies in public areas.
  • Although 97 percent of schools prohibit student smoking at school, only a third prohibit tobacco use by both students and faculty on school grounds, in school vehicles and at school-sponsored events.
  • Almost all adults felt that smoking should be banned in schools and day care centers. But only half of all adults felt smoking should be banned in work and restaurant areas.

Data on middle and high school tobacco use were from a fall 1999 Youth Tobacco Survey, and the results were released in a 2000 report. The youth tobacco survey will be repeated this fall and every two years thereafter. The remaining surveys in the baseline report were conducted in 2000 and most will be repeated annually.

The department's $30 million comprehensive tobacco control program is funded through the Master Settlement Agreement with the tobacco companies. Of that total, $3 million is set aside for program evaluation, including the report released today. The remainder is allocated as follows: $6.3 million for media and public awareness campaigns; $7 million for community partnership programs; $5 million for youth programs; and $8.7 million for treatment programs.

The report is available at www.state.nj.us/health.

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