Our state leaders are hard at work on the state budget. Take some time to let them know what is important to you!
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It's springtime in New Jersey and that means our representatives in Trenton are hard at work on the state budget for the next year. The state's fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30, so that means there are just 6 weeks left for them to figure out the details.
The American Heart Association| American Stroke Association has been engaging in conversations with our leaders about budget priorities that will help the people of New Jersey live longer, heart-healthier lives. Two areas of focus have been on tobacco prevention and healthy food access for all.
The smoking rate in New Jersey has been decreasing for years, but emerging trends are worrisome, especially among young people. Teens in New Jersey are "vaping" (also known as "juuling") at alarming rates. In addition, our low overall smoking rates mask an important disparity. Individuals in high-income areas of the state have smoking rates below average while some of our most vulnerable populations have rates much higher than the average. Therefore, we continue to advocate for funding for initiatives that will help smokers quit and prevent smoking and tobacco use in our youth. It is expected that $7 million will be included in the budget for this purpose which is a large increase over last year. However, we want to ensure that it is being used in ways that will help further decrease rates of tobacco use in the state.
Healthy food access is another problem for many of our neighbors in the Garden State. It is estimated that as many as 1 million people lack access to healthy food. We continue to advocate for a small amount of funding to enable small business owners to start offering healthy food in their stores in areas that lack supermarkets. This will improve diets and promote economic development in communities throughout the state.
The next few weeks will be a busy time in New Jersey, but I hope that you will continue to take action to make your voices heard for yourself, your families and all New Jerseyans!