New Jersey has mixed results in working to reduce tobacco use in 2013; tobacco use is still leading cause of preventable death in New Jersey, killing over 11,200 a year
New Jersey took some steps to reduce tobacco use, but failed in adequately funding prevention programs to protect children and curb tobacco-related disease in 2013. Those were the findings of the American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control 2014” report released today.
Less than a week after the release of the new Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health, which warns that 5.6 million of today’s youth will die from tobacco use unless action is taken, the Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control 2014” issues an urgent call to action to policymakers across the country to reverse their present course and commit to eliminating tobacco-caused death and disease.
The Lung Association’s 12th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report tracks yearly progress on key tobacco control policies at the federal and state level, assigning grades based on whether laws are adequately protecting citizens from the enormous toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy. The 2014 report highlights the 50th anniversary of the historic 1964 Surgeon General’s report that linked smoking to lung cancer and other diseases for the first time.
New Jersey received the following grades for 2013:
F in Funding for Tobacco Prevention and Control Programs
A in Smokefree Air
B in Cigarette Tax
F in Cessation Coverage
“New Jersey’s report card was decidedly mixed in the fight against tobacco use in 2013. The most shocking news is that New Jersey is the only state in the USA that gives zero dollars to tobacco control programs,” said Deb Brown, CEO of the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic, serving Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and West Virginia. “Zero! In New Jersey, 168,000 children now under age 18 will ultimately die prematurely from smoking. Our state’s leaders have failed to protect our children. More needs to be done in 2014.”
Tobacco causes an estimated 11,201 deaths in New Jersey annually and costs the state’s economy $5,595,317,000 in healthcare and lost productivity. This is a tremendous burden that the Garden State can ill afford.
Priorities that must be addressed to improve New Jersey’s “State of Tobacco Control” grades in 2014 include:
• State funding for New Jersey’s Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program, as New Jersey was the only state in the country that provided no state funding for such programs in fiscal year 2014. (New Jersey governors and legislature have routinely ignored language in the 2002 budget bill securitizing Master Settlement Agreement payments which mandated that $40 million in cigarette tax revenue be spend on tobacco prevention programs. New Jersey’s cigarette tax generates more than $700 million each year in revenues.)
• More cessation coverage through state Medicaid programs and state employee health plans. (This is particularly important since New Jersey legislators refuse to provide adequate funding for prevention and control programs.)
“The following have been proven to reduce tobacco use: smokefree workplace laws; high tobacco taxes; funding of tobacco prevention and quit-smoking programs; and insurance coverage for quit-smoking treatments. All that is missing in New Jersey is the political will from our elected officials,” said Brown.
“The 2014 Surgeon General’s report provides irrefutable evidence that elected officials hold the key to ending death and disease caused by tobacco use,” said Brown. “State of Tobacco Control 2014” provides the blueprint to our nation’s policymakers on how they can save millions of lives from lung cancer, COPD and other tobacco-caused death and disease.”
Fifty years ago on January 11, 1964, the Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health linked smoking to lung cancer, COPD and other diseases. These diseases are still killing over 480,000 Americans each year, and an estimated 11,201 of those deaths occur in New Jersey.
“Despite great strides in reducing smoking rates in America, tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and illness in the U.S.,” said Brown. “What is especially tragic is that since the 1964 Surgeon’s General’s Report, 20 million Americans have died as a result of smoking. The new Surgeon General’s report has linked smoking to nearly all organs of the body and illnesses such as: heart and lung disease; stroke; cancer of the liver, lung and colon; diabetes mellitus; rheumatoid arthritis; impaired fertility; erectile dysfunction; and age-related macular-degeneration. We cannot afford another 50 years of tobacco use.”
Tobacco Industry Stays One Step Ahead
“State of Tobacco Control 2014” finds that the tobacco industry continued its ruthless pursuit of addicting new, young users, and keeping current users from quitting in 2013. This included efforts at the federal and state levels to exempt their products from meaningful public health protections.
The three largest cigarette manufacturers continued their aggressive expansion into tobacco products other than cigarettes in 2013, including smokeless tobacco, cigars and now e-cigarettes. A recent CDC study showed that the use of e-cigarettes among youth doubled from 2011 to 2012. There is no federal oversight of these products, and the e-cigarette industry is pulling its marketing tactics from Big Tobacco’s playbook by using celebrity spokespeople to glamorize its products, making unproven health claims, encouraging smokers to switch instead of quit, and creating candy- and fruit-flavored products to attract youth.
“We are faced with a deep-pocketed, ever-evolving tobacco industry that’s determined to maintain its market share at the expense of our kids and current smokers,” said Brown. “State and federal policymakers must battle a changing Big Tobacco and step up to fund programs and enact policies proven to reduce tobacco use.”
Three Bold Goals:
The American Lung Association and its partners called for action by all levels of government to achieve three bold goals:
•Reduce smoking rates, currently at about 18 percent, to less than 10 percent within 10 years;
•Protect all Americans from secondhand smoke within five years; and
•Ultimately eliminate the death and disease caused by tobacco use.
“If these goals are to be realized and lives are to be saved, federal and state governments must enact these lifesaving policies,” said Brown. “New Jersey cannot afford the health or financial consequences of failing to act.”
“I urge everyone in the Garden State to join the American Lung Association in New Jersey and renew their commitment to preventing another 50 years of tobacco-caused death and disease,” said Brown. Learn more and what you can do to help at www.stateoftobaccocontrol.org
About the American Lung Association
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a Charity Navigator Four Star Charity and holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.lungusa.org.