American Lung Association Report Shows Failure of Christie Administration to Fund New Jersey’s Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, The American Lung Association released a State of Tobacco Control report, showing that New Jersey is one of only two states in the country that allocates zero state funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Ranking Member on the Energy and Commerce Committee, admonished the Christie administration for refusing to take part in a statewide effort to establish smoke-free policies, help tobacco users quit smoking, and prevent potential users from becoming addicted.
“The Governor has displayed a stunning lack of leadership when it comes to protecting our children from the dangers of tobacco,” said Pallone. “Without investing in proven tobacco prevention strategies with the revenue streams specifically created for this purpose, New Jersey residents needlessly suffer. Smoking causes a range of fatal conditions, and in New Jersey, 11,800 people will die this year from its effects. But, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show, for every person who dies, another 30 will continue to live while enduring the impacts of serious chronic conditions like diabetes, emphysema, and heart disease.”
In September, Congressman Pallone sent a letter to Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) on his failure to fund Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program. Governor Christie has ignored the letter. The funding for New Jersey’s Tobacco Control Program was first slashed completely in Fiscal Year 2013 and has remained at zero since.
In 2014, Congressman Pallone wrote to Governor Christie’s office regarding the decision to cut all funding for the program with New Jersey ranked last that year among states in funding tobacco prevention activities. Currently the states absorb $4 billion in tobacco-related health expenses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that New Jersey spend $103.3 million in prevention efforts.
Congressman Pallone has repeatedly drawn attention to the risks that tobacco continues to pose to public health. Most recently, through the authority granted by a law that he co-authored, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began exercising greater oversight over electronic cigarettes and cigar sales to young adults. It is now illegal to sell cigars, hookah tobacco, and electronic cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18, with an ID check required to anyone under the age of 27. Retailers are not permitted to give away free samples of such tobacco products and retailers are not allowed to sell cigars, hookah tobacco, and e-cigarettes in a vending machine where anyone under age 18 has access at any time.