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December 7, 2012

A consortium of healthcare advocates has released a report ranking New Jersey last -- or 50th -- in terms of delivering on its promise to spend a portion of the 14-year-old settlement with the tobacco industry on smoking prevention programs.

Indeed, New Jersey was one of four states in fiscal year 2013 that spent nothing -- $0 -- on tobacco prevention programs. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control had recommended that New Jersey spend $119.8 million this year. (Last year, New Jersey spent $1.2 million, or 1 percent of the recommended amount, giving the state a ranking of 43. The state program was once a nationwide leader but funding was slashed in 2011 from $7.6 million to being eliminated this year.)

According to the report, the state has $3.17 billion in health costs directly related to smoking; the tobacco industry spends $158 million in marketing in New Jersey, and the state earns nearly $1 billion a year from cigarette taxes. About 16 percent of the population continues to smoke.

The report was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Cancer Action Network; Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids; American Heart Association; Americans for Nonsmokers Rights; and American Lung Association.

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