2 failing grades for NJ in new report card on tobacco control
🚭 New Jersey improved its grade in one category since last year
🚭 Advocates say there's a glaring hole in NJ's smokefree laws
🚭 NJ and the U.S. have looked at banning menthol cigarettes
If you were New Jersey's parent, you would not pleased with its latest report card from the American Lung Association.
In their 21st annual "State of Tobacco Control" report released on Wednesday, the American Lung Association gave New Jersey two 'F' grades, two 'D' grades, and one 'A' for its rules and funding devoted to preventing and reducing tobacco use.
Compared to other states, New Jersey lands in the middle of the pack in the report.
The adult smoking rate in the Garden State is a little under 11%.
Funding for tobacco prevention and cessation
Between state and federal resources, New Jersey has devoted close to $9 million in Fiscal Year 2023 to helping individuals quit their tobacco addiction and preventing another generation from getting hooked, according to the report card.
Based on CDC recommendations, New Jersey should be spending more than $103 million on this cause.
New Jersey also counts regularly on more than $800 million from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, the report notes.
"We're saying, take a little bit more of that money to help the very users that would like to quit their addiction," Michael Seilback, national assistant vice president for state public policy at the American Lung Association.
Coverage and access to services
New Jersey improved year over year from an 'F' to a 'D' in this category.
In the report card, New Jersey gets credit for insurance coverage of quit medications, as well as some counseling.
The NJ Quitline, which offers support to residents looking to kick the habit, makes an investment of $0.58 per smoker, the report card says.
Smokefree workplace laws
For close to 17 years, New Jersey has prohibited smoking at indoor public spaces and workplaces. Since then, it's been expanded to includes beaches and parks.
But a gap persists, according to the American Lung Association. Indoor smoking is still permitted in the nine Atlantic City casinos.
"We are calling on the Legislature, once and for all, to protect New Jersey's casino workers," Seilback said.
Gov. Phil Murphy has said he'd support a casino smoking ban. Legislation exists, but has not seen a committee vote, despite plenty of support on both sides of the political aisle.
Ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products
In 2020, New Jersey prohibited the sale of flavored vaping products, in an effort to reduce the number of young people who become hooked on smoking.
But the state hasn't gone far enough, according to the report card. The American Lung Association is calling on New Jersey to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes.
The federal government is considering an end to the sale of menthol cigarettes; New Jersey lawmakers have legislation that would do the same.
New Jersey tobacco taxes
The Garden State has not "significantly increased" its tobacco tax since 2009 and should increase its tax by at least $1 per pack of cigarettes, the report says.
The current tax is $2.70 per pack.
"One of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use, not only among low-income individuals but also for youth, is to significantly increase the tax on all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes," the report says.
Gov. Murphy's proposed budget in 2020 included an increase of $1.65 in New Jersey's cigarette tax. If it had been approved, it would have been the highest cigarette tax in the country.
Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at email@example.com
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