In December, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids issued their annual report Broken Promises to Our Children: A State-By-State Look at the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 16 Years Later. The report provides a "ranking" for each state based on the state's funding for tobacco programs. New Jersey ranked dead last for 3rd year in a row. While this is not surprising because New Jersey is now the only state that spends $0 on tobacco programs, it remains concerning.
The report also noted that 12.9% of high school students in New Jersey smoke. Smoking remains the #1 cause of preventable death in the country and health care costs in the state directly caused by smoking total over $4 BILLION! New Jersey generates over $700 million in tobacco taxes each year and none of it is used for tobacco prevention.
The state budget for the upcoming year must be approved by June 30. Over the next 6 months, we will once again be advocating for funding for tobacco programs. Although significant progress has been made in reducing smoking, there is still work to do.