American Lung Association 'State of Tobacco Control' Report Shows New Jersey Must do More to End E-cigarette Epidemic Among Youth and Reduce Tobacco Use
State earns 'D' grade in Tobacco Taxes category; Lung Association calls on officials to pass a significant increase in the tax on cigarettes
(January 30, 2019) - NEWARK, NJ
Tobacco use remains the nation's leading cause of preventable death and disease, taking an estimated 480,000 lives every year. This year's "State of Tobacco Control" report from the American Lung Association finds that New Jersey had mixed progress on its efforts to reduce and prevent tobacco use. The American Lung Association calls on New Jersey officials to pass a significant increase in the tax on cigarettes in order to save lives.
In the report, the Lung Association applauds New Jersey for acting to protect youth from tobacco by passing Tobacco 21 earning an A grade. The issue is more urgent than ever, with youth e-cigarette use reaching epidemic levels due to a 78 percent increase in high school e-cigarette use from 2017 to 2018, according to results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey. This equals one million additional kids beginning to use e-cigarettes, placing their developing bodies and lungs at risk from the chemicals in e-cigarettes as well as a lifetime of addiction to a deadly product. This has caused the U.S. Surgeon General to declare e-cigarette use among young people an epidemic in an Advisory issued in December 2018.
"In New Jersey, our adult smoking rates remain at 13.7 percent and the high school smoking rate is 4.7 percent. Tobacco use is a serious addiction and we need to invest in the proven measures to prevent and reduce tobacco use outlined in 'State of Tobacco Control'," said American Lung Association's Michael Seilback, National Assistant Vice President, State Public Policy. "The report provides a roadmap on how to save lives, but much work remains to be done in communities across New Jersey to prevent and reduce tobacco use."
The 17th annual "State of Tobacco Control" report grades states and the federal government on policies proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use, and finds that while New Jersey has taken significant steps to reduce tobacco use, including passing legislation to increase the tobacco product sales age to 21, elected officials must do more to save lives:
- Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F
- Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws - Grade A
- Level of State Tobacco Taxes - Grade D
- Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco - Grade B
- Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade A
The American Lung Association encourages New Jersey to fully fund tobacco control efforts at levels recommended by the CDC, and, this year's report specifically noted the need to focus on passing a significant increase in the tax on cigarettes.
Increasing tobacco taxes is one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use, not only among low-income individuals but also for youth. Multiple studies have shown that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces consumption by about 4 percent among adults and about seven percent among youth.
"To protect kids from a lifetime of nicotine addiction, the Lung Association in New Jersey encourages legislators to increase tobacco taxes. This step is critical to Garden State residents as the current tobacco use among youth is 4.7 percent," said Seilback.
Finally, if New Jersey would increase funding for tobacco control programs, the state would have a powerful opportunity to help further reduce and prevent tobacco use, including supporting communities that still use tobacco at higher rates and who have been targeted by the tobacco industry. An investment in prevention is especially important given the skyrocketing number of youth who are using e-cigarettes. Despite New Jersey receiving 919 million dollars from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, the state only spent $7.2 million on tobacco control programs, only 10.5% of the recommended tobacco control funding by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"This year marks the 20th anniversary of the largest legal settlement in U.S. history – the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. New Jersey receives millions of dollars every year from this settlement, and we believe the funds should be used to support the health of our communities, and to help smokers quit and prevent tobacco use. We applaud New Jersey for taking a step in the right direction by directing a portion of its tobacco tax to tobacco control program funding. However, New Jersey must commit even more resources to help smokers quit and preventing kids from starting," said Seilback.
The Lung Association's "State of Tobacco Control" 2019 report provides a blueprint that states, and the federal government can follow to put in place proven policies that will have the greatest impact on reducing tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke in the U.S.
For media interested in speaking with an expert about the "State of Tobacco Control" report, lung health, tobacco use and tobacco control policies, contact the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 717-503-3903.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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