Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
July 11, 2000
Trenton - New Jersey has been awarded $2.2 million from the American Legacy Foundation (ALF) to expand the state's youth movement against tobacco through a series of regional mini-summits for teens to learn about tobacco and develop peer leadership and advocacy skills.
"This award is strong recognition that New Jersey's anti-tobacco plan is effective, aggressive and comprehensive," said Governor Christie Whitman.
"These funds will help us mobilize the teens who will be the best anti-tobacco ambassadors in our schools and our neighborhoods," the Governor added.
New Jersey is one of 12 states awarded the three-year grants today by ALF, the national, independent, public health foundation established under the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) with the tobacco industry. The first year grant to New Jersey is $703,680.
New Jersey's five-point plan to significantly reduce youth tobacco use includes a youth anti-tobacco awareness campaign, community based programs, youth programs to promote leadership, accessible tobacco dependence treatment programs for youth and adults and evaluation to determine if the overall plan is working. The $30 million tobacco control plan is funded through the MSA.
"No single strategy will reduce tobacco use. We have to attack this serious public health problem on all fronts in partnership with our communities. And it has to be a sustained effort, year after year," said Commissioner Christine Grant.
"Youth educating and supporting each other is an effective way to reduce the number of youth smokers. If the billions of dollars expanded on smokers' health care is to be reduced, however, not smoking needs to be the social norm for all of us," Grant added.
The 1999 New Jersey Youth Tobacco Survey of 16,000 students in 164 schools shows that nearly one in five (18.9 percent) middle school students and nearly two in five (38.9 percent) high school students report they are current users of tobacco, including cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco and bidis, which are small, hand-rolled imported cigarettes.
Critical to building an effective and cohesive social movement against tobacco is the motivation and skills of the state's youth, Grant said.
New Jersey will hold its first statewide summit in November for up to 500 teens recruited from schools and communities. At the two-day summit, youth will learn the most current information on tobacco issues and addictions, develop peer leadership and advocacy skills to be leaders in their schools and communities and lay the groundwork for a continuing statewide youth movement.
The ALF grant will be used to build on the statewide youth summit through a series of regional mini-conferences to reinforce the learning and momentum of the statewide summit. The original group of some 500 teens at the statewide summit will be divided geographically into three groups. Each group will attend three smaller summits held on college campuses in the winter, spring and summer each year.
New Jersey sent 20 teens last month to the national youth summit on tobacco in Seattle.
To encourage and support growing interest in the youth anti-tobacco movement, the department is working closely with New Jersey Breathes, a coalition of 40 organizations, and the Communities against Tobacco, a network of grassroots coalitions in each of the state's 21 counties.
For more information on tobacco-related activities, including the strategic plan and the youth tobacco survey, visit the department's website at www.state.nj.us/health.
For more information about the American Legacy Foundation, visit its website at www.americanlegacy.org.