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News Release

 
   PO 360
   Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

   For Release:
  August 9, 2002

 

Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Thomas Slater
(609) 984-7160


McGreevey Announces that New Jersey is Recognized as
a National Leader in Tobacco-Use Prevention


In a recently issued report, the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said New Jersey and three other states - Maine, Maryland and Indiana - had emerged as "new leaders" in tobacco-use prevention because their elected officials had resisted cutting prevention programs despite budget problems.

"New Jersey has been recognized by prominent anti-tobacco organizations as a national leader in tobacco-use prevention," said Governor James E. McGreevey.

New Jersey also stood out among the states because the Governor signed into law a 70-cents-per pack increase in the cigarette tax and committed to use some of the new revenue to gradually increase funding for the state's tobacco prevention program from $30 million a year in Fiscal Years 2002 and 2003 to $45 million in FY2006.

According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the State can expect the tax increase to prevent some 61,000 kids alive today from becoming smokers, save 30,000 New Jersey residents from smoking-caused deaths, produce $1.1 billion in long-term health care savings, and raise roughly $300 million a year in new revenue.

"Even in tough fiscal times, we must protect what matters most to the future of our state - the health of our people, our families and our communities," said McGreevey, a former member of the National Cancer Advisory Board. "The Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program prevents our residents from smoking and helps others quit - and now coupled with a cigarette tax increase of an additional 70 cents - we can go even further in preventing some of the deaths, illnesses and disabilities caused by tobacco use. It's good fiscal policy and good health policy."

With almost 13,000 New Jersey residents dying each year from diseases related to tobacco use, McGreevey added that 18.4 percent of New Jersey adults - or one million - smoke and each year more than 20,000 New Jersey youths become addicted to smoking.

New Jersey was the only one of the 17 states that has increased cigarette taxes this year to commit some of the new revenue to increasing funding for tobacco prevention. New Jersey currently ranks tenth in the nation in funding tobacco prevention.

States are faced with their first budget shortfalls since the 1998 settlement with the tobacco industry. Unlike New Jersey, many have responded by cutting tobacco-prevention programs. FY 03 funding across the country is expected to be cut by $102.3 million, or more than 13 percent, the organizations said in the report.

"Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death and disease. Our Department is committed to tobacco prevention and control initiatives to help keep young people from starting to smoke and help current smokers quit," said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. "Smoking is an addiction. Innovative and effective treatment programs are critical to effectively reduce the number of people in New Jersey who smoke"

Nearly seven out of 10 New Jersey smokers want to quit. Under the Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program, New Jersey offers three customized no- or low-cost cessation services: New Jersey Quitnet (www.nj.quitnet.com), a free online information, counseling, and referral resource; New Jersey Quitline (1-866-NJ-STOPS), a toll-free, no-cost telephone counseling service; and New Jersey Quitcenters, face-to-face clinics offer counseling on a sliding fee scale.

For more information, please visit the DHSS website at www.state.nj.us/health.


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Department of Health and Senior Services
P. O. Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

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