News Release
   
   PO 360
   Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

   For Release:
May 1, 2001

Christine Grant
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Laura Otterbourg or Marilyn Riley
609-984-7160

 

DHSS Releases First Annual Report
On State's Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program


TRENTON - New Jersey's Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program is already making a difference in people's lives and in communities around the state, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Christine Grant announced today.

"By devoting $30 million this year to anti-tobacco initiatives, we're investing wisely in the health of all New Jerseyans," said acting Governor Donald DiFrancesco. "These funds will help us prevent some of the deaths, illnesses and disabilities caused by tobacco use."

Commissioner Grant today released the state's first annual report on the Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program, outlining some of its major accomplishments. Grant noted that all five major areas of the tobacco control program are now under way - treatment programs, community partnerships, youth programs, media and public awareness campaigns and program evaluation.

"Non-smoking is quickly becoming the social norm in New Jersey," the Commissioner said. "More people are quitting smoking. Restaurants and workplaces are going smoke-free. Teens and communities are mobilizing themselves against tobacco use."

Just over 1 million New Jerseyans smoke, and the state is the first in the nation to have created three free or low-cost treatment services to help people quit - Quitline, a telephone-based counseling service; Quitnet, an Internet-based treatment program; and the face-to-face Quitcenters. A major advertising campaign now under way promotes the availability of these services to those ready to quit. Program accomplishments include:

  • 1,322 smokers have registered with Quitnet since last October and are receiving counseling. Quitnet has also logged 1 million hits, including the 46,000 visitor sessions that have occurred on the site.
  • More than 754 smokers have received counseling through Quitline.
  • More than 200 have enrolled at 9 Quitcenters, which were phased in starting last December. By July, there will be a total of 15 centers operating around the state.

Physicians, dentists and nurses play a key role in encouraging patients to quit smoking. This past year, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services distributed 19,000 "black box" quit smoking kits to health care providers. The kits include materials providers can use to counsel patients about quitting smoking and to refer them to smoking cessation services.

And convincing young people to quit - or never start smoking in the first place - is one of the major goals of the Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program. In February, the state launched its "Not for Sale" advertising campaign aimed at youth.

Appearing in television ads, on radio and on billboards, the campaign delivers the message that young people can choose to be free from tobacco, that they can tell Big Tobacco they're "not for sale." More than 90 percent of New Jersey teens are being exposed to the "Not for Sale" message at least 20 times a month during the course of the campaign.

"Not for Sale" is also the rallying cry for the state's growing youth anti-tobacco movement known as REBEL (Reaching Everyone By Exposing Lies). More than 1,200 young activists have joined REBEL, which was launched at a major youth summit last November. There are now 21 REBEL chapters working with the newly created Communities Against Tobacco (CAT) coalitions in each county.

"We have many partners in the effort to reduce smoking rates and protect people from the effects of environmental tobacco smoke," Grant explained. "It is through the hard work of local health departments, the CAT coalitions, New Jersey Breathes and many non-profit groups that we have been able to accomplish so much." Since January 2000:

  • 19 additional local tobacco control ordinances have been passed by local governments -- a six percent increase over the previously existing 322 local ordinances.
  • 218 additional restaurants have become smoke-free, representing a 25 percent increase and bringing the total of smoke-free restaurants in the state to 1,083.
  • 145 more work places have become smoke-free through the efforts of local health departments and the Communities Against Tobacco (CAT) Coalitions.
  • 76 additional public places have adopted voluntary tobacco restrictions.

Commissioner Grant noted that the CAT coalitions are proving to be important instruments of change in the community. For example:

  • Smoking is now prohibited in the playground areas of Birch Grove Park in Northfield, the largest municipal park in New Jersey, through the efforts of the Atlantic County CAT and the Northfield Recreation Department.
  • The City of Belmar last month became the state's first municipality, and one of the first in the nation, to establish non-smoking sections on its ocean beach and boardwalk. This was due to the efforts of the Monmouth County CAT, the local health department and the City of Belmar.
  • The Ocean County CAT convinced the new Lakewood Blue Claws minor league baseball park to open as a smoke-free facility.

The annual report is available at the department's web site, www.state.nj.us/health.

# # #


NJ Home Search NJ NJ Departments NJ Services NJ Directories NJ Legislature NJ Judiciary