As vaping catches on, N.J. lawmaker seeks steady funding for anti-smoking efforts

(Emma Lee/WHYY)

(Emma Lee/WHYY)

A New Jersey lawmaker has introduced legislation that would dedicate 5 percent of the revenue from the state’s cigarette tax to anti-smoking programs.

Funds for smoking-cessation programs has been eliminated from the state budget for five years, said Assemblyman Tim Eustace, D-Bergen.

“It’s about time we got back to it,” he said. “Youngsters are actually the population that is growing with the vaping, not necessarily with cigarettes, but it’s important to talk about any sort of smoking cessation.”

The legislation would provide about $33 million a year for anti-smoking efforts.

Ethan Hasbrouck with the American Cancer Society said that could have a big effect.

“New Jersey could realize a 6.5 percent decrease in New Jersey’s youth smoking rate, over 6,000 fewer kids growing up to die prematurely from smoking, and about a $367 million decrease in future health care expenditures,” he said.

Karen Blumenfeld, executive director of the smoke-free advocacy group GASP, said funding those programs would have long-term benefits.

“New Jersey actually spends $3 billion a year in health care costs related to smoking,” she said. “So, not only is it important from the standpoint of public health to help people live a healthier life, but from a fiscal standpoint it makes perfect sense.”

Use of e-cigarettes by young people has tripled in a year without state-funded programs in place to discourage them from using tobacco, Blumenfeld said.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.