New Jersey’s $2.70 tax on a pack of cigarettes is not enough to prevent the loss of thousands of lives and billions a year in state healthcare costs, according to the American Cancer Society.
That’s because despite raising more than $5 billion in tax revenues and tobacco settlements, New Jersey spent only $40 million on tobacco control programs over five years, which is less than 1 percent of the amount recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. Indeed, most of any state’s antismoking programs are paid for with federal grants, and last year New Jersey actually turned away people who wanted help to quit because of a lack of funding.
It’s a familiar story in New Jersey, with the state diverting funds that were originally thought to be dedicated to a specific purpose instead being used to plug holes in the general budget. According to the report, in 2011 the state raised $750 million in cigarette taxes (for a total of $3.79 billion since 2007) and received $239.9 in settlements from the tobacco industry (for a total of $1.26 billion during the same period). Yet, in 2011, the state spent only $1.5 million on tobacco control.