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News Release

 
   PO 360
   Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

   For Release:
   May 7, 2002

 

Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Laura Otterbourg or Dennis McGowan
(609) 984-7160


Governor McGreevey Affirms Support for Tobacco Control Program
-- Makes Health of New Jersey Citizens a Top Priority --

   

Pledging to help New Jersey smokers quit and prevent others from starting, Governor James E. McGreevey announced in his budget address that he is dedicating $30 million in the next fiscal year budget to the Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program. The Governor also proposed a 50-cent increase in the tobacco excise tax that will effectively reduce smoking by lowering consumption.

"New Jersey is committed to protecting what matters most to the future of our state - the health of our people, our families and our communities," said Governor McGreevey, a former member of the National Cancer Advisory Board. "This is why we are working aggressively to discourage individuals from smoking and to assist those who need help quitting. Even in tough fiscal times, we must work together to support those programs that matter most to our residents."

"Smoking is responsible for more than a quarter of all cancer deaths in our State," added the Governor. "I have made cancer research and treatment a major priority of my administration, and that includes recognizing the significant role that tobacco control plays in reducing smoking-related deaths attributed to many forms of cancer. The $30 million investment in New Jersey's Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program for the next state fiscal year 2003 ensures that New Jersey will continue making significant inroads on tobacco use and prevention - and save lives."

Cigarette smoking is the single most preventable cause of death and disease in the nation. Yet about 13,000 New Jerseyans die each year from tobacco-related illnesses.

"The Governor's support for the Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program means that New Jersey's tobacco control community can continue its efforts to reduce smoking on a statewide basis," said Department of Health and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.

"We also need to applaud the Governor for his position on cigarette taxes because we know that price increases are the most effective way to discourage smoking," said Dr. Lacy. "Research indicates that for every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes in the United States, consumption will fall between 3 percent and 4 percent. This tax is good public health policy."

From 1999 to 2001, New Jersey reduced cigarette smoking among middle school students by 42 percent and among high school students by 11 percent. New Jersey's smoking rates for high school students are lower than the national average (24.5 percent compared to 28 percent). Experience shows that teen smoking has dropped in all states with strong comprehensive tobacco control programs.

The proposed 2003 funding will enable the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to expand the youth-led statewide anti-tobacco movement called REBEL (Reaching Everyone By Exposing Lies), which empowers high school teens to not smoke. More than 7,000 members currently belong to REBEL.

And among the 1.16 million New Jersey residents who smoke, seven out of 10 say they want to quit. The DHSS offers three low- or no-cost customized cessation services that offer smokers a choice: New Jersey Quitnet, a free online information, counseling and referral service (www.nj.quitnet.com); New Jersey Quitline, a toll-free telephone-based counseling service (1-866-NJ-STOPS); and New Jersey Quit Centers, 15 face-to-face counseling clinics throughout the State that charge for services on a sliding fee scale based on income.

More than one-quarter (26%) of smokers registered with New Jersey Quitline have quit smoking for six months following counseling, a result well above the average success rate for structured cessation programs. NJ Quitnet has logged nearly 200,000 visitor sessions in its first 14 months of service between October 2000 and December 2001.

Under the Governor's proposed budget, the DHSS will be able to extend these services to more New Jerseyans through outreach in the general and multicultural media and through the many community-based organizations working with the Department to promote these services and advocate for tobacco prevention and smoking cessation. These community partners are essential for their ability to ensure that tobacco prevention and cessation dollars reach the communities and programs where they have the greatest impact. This statewide network advocates for smoke-free environments by promoting anti-tobacco ordinances, smoke-free restaurants, and other tobacco control policies.

For more information, please visit the DHSS website at www.state.nj.us

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Department of Health and Senior Services
P. O. Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

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