Reducing the Toll of Tobacco in New Jersey

Reducing the Toll of Tobacco in New Jersey

The use of tobacco products remains the nation's number one cause of preventable death. In New Jersey:

  • Tobacco use causes an estimated 11,800 deaths per year.
  • Tobacco costs state residents an estimated $4.06 billion in health care costs, including close to $1 billion in Medicaid expenditures.
  • In 2016 an estimated 5,580 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer and 3,830 will die from the disease.
  • In addition to lung cancer, smoking causes cancer in the trachea, bronchus, esophagus, oral cavity, lip, nasopharynx, nasal cavity, larynx, stomach, bladder, pancreas, kidney, liver, uterine cervix, colon and rectum, and causes leukemia according to the Centers for Disease Control.
  • 15% of adults and 14% of high school students smoke and/or use other tobacco products.
  • 5,400 kids under 18 become new daily smokers each year.
In New Jersey, ACS CAN is working to address this issue by:

Funding Tobacco Control and Prevention Programs in New Jersey

Despite receiving approximately $700 million annually in tobacco tax revenue, New Jersey spends ZERO state dollars on programs to help smokers quit and keep kids from trying tobacco. New Jersey is the only state in the nation that spends no state dollars on tobacco control and prevention programs.

Comprehensive, well-funded tobacco control programs help prevent youth from starting to use tobacco products and support and promote cessation among current tobacco users. ACS CAN recommends that states dedicate a portion of tobacco tax and other tobacco-related revenue for tobacco control. However, in FY2011, state funding for the NJ Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program was slashed from $7.6 million to just $600,000. Funding was increased to $1.2 million in FY2012, only to be totally eliminated in FY2013.

The tobacco industry never stops marketing to kids because they know that almost all smokers start as kids. The tobacco companies spend $186.8 million every year marketing their deadly products in New Jersey. That's why we cannot let up in funding programs to protect our kids from tobacco. Tobacco prevention is one of the smartest and most fiscally responsible investments that states can make.

The 2014 Surgeon General's report concluded that investments in comprehensive state tobacco control programs work. States that have funded tobacco control have indeed seen results:

  • Washington State saw a 5-1 savings with their program between 2000-2009 and cut adult smoking by a third and youth smoking in half.
  • Florida, which has a constitutional amendment that provides $66 million per year, has seen their adult smoking rate plummet from 21.1% in 2007 to 16.8% in 2014 and their youth smoking rate drop to 7.5% in 2014 from a high of 10.5% in 2006.
  • In California, lung cancer rates declined by a third between 1988 and 2011.
  • Maine reduced its youth smoking rates by two thirds between 1997-2013.

The Solution

New Jersey should dedicate at least 1% of the state's cigarette and tobacco tax revenue to tobacco control and prevention programs. The state should target these resources to adult cessation; increase community level interventions, especially in disadvantaged urban neighborhoods and rural areas; increase funding for anti-smoking media messages; and develop strategies for reaching those with mental illness and addictive disorders. State funding has dropped from $30 million in 2003 to nothing today, despite receiving approximately $700 million annually in cigarette and tobacco tax revenue.

Prevention via Tobacco Taxes

New Jersey currently taxes cigarettes at a higher rate than non-cigarette tobacco products, such as cigars and smokeless tobacco. New Jersey taxes cigarettes at $2.70 per pack (68% of the wholesale price). Other non-cigarette tobacco products - premium cigars, small cigars, cigarillos, moist snuff, roll-your-own - are taxed at the rate of 30% of the wholesale price or its equivalent.

The unequal tax treatment of tobacco products encourages tobacco use and undermines gains in the reduction of cigarette consumption. The lower prices of these non-cigarette tobacco products are also particularly appealing to young people. In New Jersey, while cigarette sales have seen a steady decline over the past decade, the tax revenues generated from the sale of non-cigarette tobacco products have jumped.

The tobacco tax rates in New Jersey are unequal and ACS CAN supports equalizing the tax on all tobacco products by increasing the tax rates of non-cigarette tobacco products to match the tax rate on cigarettes. By implementing this change to the tax rates of non-cigarette tobacco, the state could see increased revenue by more than $22 million in the first year. ACS CAN will advocate for revenues from this tax equalization to fund the tobacco control and prevention program.