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News Release

 
   PO 360
   Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

   For Release:
   May 16, 2002

 

Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.
Commissioner

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


Report Marks A Year Of Progress
For New Jersey's Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program


TRENTON-The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services today released the state's 2001 New Jersey Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program Annual Report, outlining the program's results in its second year.

"One of the most important investments we can make is in the health of our state's residents," said Health and Senior Service Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. "This report shows that by attacking tobacco use from many different angles, we can make real, sustained progress in the drive to improve the health of all New Jerseyans. That is why the McGreevey Administration has proposed dedicating $30 million in the FY03 budget to continue the vital work of the state's Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program."

"In less than two years, our program has been able to reduce the number of smokers, especially young people," added Dr. Lacy. "This reduction is significant because cigarette smoking is the single most preventable cause of death and disease in the nation - and is responsible for more than a quarter of all cancer deaths in New Jersey."

The Annual Report presents the achievements, priorities and major initiatives of the program over the past year. Following are highlights:

Tobacco Use Declines Among Middle School and High School Students

The Annual Report documents the 2001 New Jersey Youth Tobacco Survey, commissioned by the department and conducted by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey - School of Public Health, which compares 2001 results to baseline data from 1999:

  • Cigarette smoking declined 42 percent among middle school students and 11 percent among high school students.
  • Use of any tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, bidis, smokeless tobacco) declined 38 percent among middle school students and 14 percent among high school students.

    The report highlights the youth component of the Tobacco Control Program:

  • REBEL (Reaching Everyone By Exposing Lies), a youth-led movement for high school teens, has grown from 340 members in 2000 to over 7,000 members and advocates in 2001.
  • REBEL 2, a pilot program in 25 New Jersey middle schools, teaches students about the dangers of tobacco use. These students will go on to mentor elementary school children as part of a smoking prevention program.
  • ROCS (REBEL Official College Support Staff), a first-in-the-nation program that trains college students to work hand-in-hand with high school REBEL members as mentors.

New Jersey's Cessation Programs Are Building Momentum

More than 1 million New Jerseyans smoke. Nearly seven out of 10 of these smokers want to quit. Under the Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program, New Jersey offers three customized no- or low-cost cessation services: New Jersey Quitnetsm (www.nj.quitnet.com), a free online information, counseling, and referral resource; New Jersey Quitline (1-866-NJ-STOPS), a toll-free, no-cost telephone counseling service; and New Jersey Quitcenters, face-to-face clinics offer counseling on a sliding fee scale. During 2001:

  • More than 70 percent of smokers who called New Jersey Quitline enrolled in counseling, and 26 percent of smokers who registered reported being smoke-free after six months, well above the national average of 10 to 12 percent for such programs.
  • New Jersey Quitnet had nearly 200,000 visitor sessions in its first 14 months. Visitors spent an average of 12.5 minutes on the site, above the general average of 10 minutes per visit to sites on the Internet.
  • New Jersey Quitcenters expanded to 15 locations throughout the State, with the four newest locations opening in March 2002.

Community Partnership Efforts

The department collaborates with a statewide network of community partners to build the Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program at the grassroots level. The report highlights partnership initiatives that resulted in notable changes in communities in 2001:

  • Owners of 977 New Jersey restaurants voluntarily adopted smoke-free policies, bringing the statewide total to 2,077. And 250 other New Jersey businesses adopted smoke-free policies.
  • As of February 2002, 264 New Jersey municipalities' enacted 374 smoke-free ordinances to reduce the public's exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.
  • Grassroots tobacco education initiatives reached more than 160,000 individuals last year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently ranked New Jersey 11th among states in committing a substantial portion of Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement funds for tobacco control programs. In two years, we have established an evidence-based comprehensive program following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Best Practices, and models by California and Massachusetts, states with extensive experience in tobacco control.

Savings produced by the California program in direct medical costs alone are estimated at $3.02 billion dollars between 1990 and 1998, or $3.62 for every dollar spent on the program. A 1999 Massachusetts Institute of Technology study found that Massachusetts saves $2 in healthcare costs for every dollar spent on tobacco prevention.

New Jersey's Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program is designed to reduce sickness, disability, and death among New Jerseyans associated with the use of tobacco and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. To obtain a copy of the 2001 New Jersey Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program Annual Report, log onto www.state.nj.us/health.

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

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