Fighting Tobacco

Tobacco companies are still making a killing off New Jerseyans.  While we have made substantial progress, the fact remains that smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in New Jersey.  Each year more than 480,000 people in the United States die from illnesses related to tobacco use. This means each year smoking causes about 1 out of 5 deaths in the US. We can change these grim statistics. 

Smoking not only causes cancer. It can damage nearly every organ in the body, including the lungs, heart, blood vessels, reproductive organs, mouth, skin, eyes, and bones.

Smoking accounts for about 30% of all cancer deaths in the United States, including about 80% of all lung cancer deaths. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women and is one of the hardest cancers to treat.

Smoking and tobacco take a toll on New Jerseyans…

11,800 New Jerseyans a year die from tobacco-caused illnesses.

  • 2,500 New Jersey kids become new smokers each year.  
  • The annual health care costs in New Jersey directly caused by smoking are $4.06 billion.
  • The annual Medicaid costs caused by smoking in New Jersey is $1.17 billion.
  • $3.15 billion in smoking-caused productivity losses in New Jersey.
  • The use of e-cigarettes by kids is rising rapidly. E-cigarette use among kids tripled in just one year
  • Kids aren’t substituting e-cigarettes for cigarettes.  In fact, more than half of high school students who smoke cigarettes also use e-cigarettes.
  • 9.6% of high school students in New Jersey use e-cigarettes.


New Jersey State Advocacy Initiatives:
While New Jersey has made tremendous strides in reducing smoking rates, in recent years, the state has begun to lose its national leadership role in tobacco control. 

  • The New Jersey Tobacco Control Program:  The state’s Tobacco Control Program helps New Jerseyans quit smoking and keeps kids from beginning this deadly addiction. Yet despite our successes, the program is woefully underfunded – meaning many communities across the state are still seeing an overwhelming level of death and disease from smoking.   The populations that need our help the most, including those with lower education and income, and individuals with mental health and substance abuse issues have significantly higher smoking rates – and some even double the statewide smoking rate.  New Jersey needs to step-up efforts to reach smokers rather than reduce its efforts.


  • Ban ALL Flavored Tobacco Products: The state took a step forward in January 2020 when legislation was signed into law that bans the sale of flavored e-cigarette products. There is still more work to do. With menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars still on the market, New Jersey has created a health disparity that must be addressed.
    • Over half (54%) youth smokers ages 12-17 use menthol cigarettes compared to one-third (32%) of adult smokers.
    • Prevalence of menthol use is even higher among African Americans: 85% of all-African American smokers smoke menthol cigarettes and seven out of ten African American youth smokers smoke menthol cigarettes.
    • It is estimated that by 2020, 4,700 deaths in the African American community will be attributable to menthol cigarettes and over 460,000 African Americans will have started smoking because of menthol cigarettes.
    • Nearly three-quarters (74.7%) of high school cigar smokers in New Jersey use flavored cigars.


  • Increase the Cigarette Tax: It has been over 10 years since New Jersey raised its cigarette tax. The current rate is $2.70, and we have fallen to the 11th highest in the country. Regular and significant tobacco tax increases are a win-win-win for states: a health win that reduces tobacco use and saves lives; a fiscal win as it raises much-needed revenue; and a political win that is popular with the public.
    • Save Lives: Regular and significant tobacco tax increases are one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use and, therefore, suffering and death from tobacco-related diseases like cancer.
    • Save Money: Significant increases to cigarette and tobacco taxes result in substantial revenue increases for states as well as health care cost savings. Every state that has significantly increased its cigarette tax in recent years has seen increases in revenue.
    • Voters Approve: National and state polls consistently have found overwhelming public support for tobacco tax increases. In fact, many polls have shown voters are more likely to support a candidate that supports increasing the tax on tobacco.