A New Jersey lawmaker wants the state to restore funding for anti-smoking efforts.
Because state funding for smoking control and cessation programs has been cut from New Jersey’s budget for the past several years, Assemblyman Tim Eustace has introduced legislation that would dedicate 5 percent of the revenue from the state cigarette tax to those programs.
“We got all this money from the tobacco settlements, and it was reallocated to the general budget, so we have to find a way to encourage young people not to start smoking,” said Eustace, D-Bergen. “This seems to be a common-sense way. It doesn’t add taxes to anything, It just refunds the program.”
New Jersey is the only state that does not spend state dollars on tobacco-cessation programs, said Ethan Hasbrouck with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.
“New Jersey, while it has a lower rate of smoking than the national average, the decline in smoking in New Jersey is not outpacing the national trend,” he said. “People are not picking up the habit and people are quitting, but we can be doing better.”
The proposed legislation would provide about $30 million a year for anti-smoking programs.
Eustace expects lawmakers will hold a hearing on his bill in the fall.