Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in New Jersey. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association in New Jersey calls for the following actions to be taken by our elected officials:
- Increase the tobacco tax and create tax parity between the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes; and
- Secure state tobacco prevention and cessation funding.
New Jersey receives about $944 million from tobacco Master Settlement Agreement payments and tobacco taxes each year. Fiscal year 2018 is the first time in seven years that funding has been allocated to tobacco use prevention and cessation by the state. $500,000 in state funding will go to support tobacco control programs. In addition, a bill that has the potential to dedicate up to $7 million to tobacco control programs from tobacco tax revenues each year starting in fiscal year 2019 was approved during 2017. The Lung Association in New Jersey will advocate for this bill to be implemented as part of next year's budget.
In 2017, a bill to increase the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21 was introduced and passed in both chambers of the legislature. It was uncertain how Governor Chris Christie would react to the bill since he vetoed a similar bill several years earlier. However, the Governor ended up signing the bill into law. With that action, New Jersey became the 3rd state to pass a Tobacco 21 law.
The municipality of Quinton, New Jersey became the 8th municipality in Salem County to adopt an Outdoor Smokefree Recreation Ordinance, on July 6, 2017, which prohibits the use of all tobacco products including electronic cigarettes and vaping devices in Quinton parks, recreation areas, as well as municipal buildings and vehicles.
The American Lung Association in New Jersey will continue to educate lawmakers on the ongoing fight against tobacco. Our goal is to build champions within the legislature and a groundswell of advocates to advance our goals: the equalization of taxes on other tobacco products and funding to prevent our youth from starting to smoke as well as helping individuals who want to quit to do so.