New Jersey Budget Protects Funding for Cancer Programs but Fails to Include Cigarette Tax Increase
TRENTON, NJ - Sept. 24, 2020 - The budget package passed today by the New Jersey State Legislature maintains funding for crucial cancer programs, however it fails to include the increase in the cigarette tax proposed by Governor Murphy. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) calls on the legislature to prioritize efforts to reduce tobacco’s deadly toll on New Jersey by adopting the $1.65 per pack cigarette tax increase before the end of this year. ACS CAN also asks the Legislature to: Prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products; Prohibit smoking in all casinos, and; Require Medicaid to cover FDA approved smoking cessation products.
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) New Jersey Government Relations Director Michael Davoli released the following statement:
“ACS CAN applauds the Legislature for adopting a budget that recognizes the importance of maintaining programs critical to preventing, detecting and treating cancer while at the same time addressing some of the acute needs related to COVID-19. We are disappointed, however, that a $1.65 per pack cigarette tax increase was not included.
“We are pleased that at a time when more than 140,000 New Jerseyans have lost their employer-based health insurance, the budget maintains funding for the New Jersey Cancer Screening, Early Detection and Education Program (NJCEED) which ensures that cancers continue to be detected at an early stage when they can be treated more effectively.
“The budget also includes funding for the New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research (NJCCR) which provides a vital source of funding to research that will save lives and shape the future.
“New Jersey’s tobacco control and smoking cessation programs are vital to the future health of millions of New Jerseyans. Helping adults quit and keeping youth from starting in the first place takes a sustained commitment and funding source from the State of New Jersey. That is why we are completely mystified as to why the legislature failed to approve Governor Murphy’s proposed $1.65 per pack increase in the state’s cigarette tax.
“Raising the state’s cigarette tax by $1.65 per pack would result in 23,700 fewer youth under age 18 becoming adult smokers, 46,300 current adult smokers quitting, 18,700 premature smoking-caused deaths prevented, a savings of over $1.4 billion in long-term health care costs, and generate over $100 million in new annual revenue for New Jersey.
“The number one cancer killer nationwide and in New Jersey is lung cancer. Smoking is responsible for 26.7% of cancer deaths in New Jersey, while almost 12,000 people die each year from smoking-related diseases of all types, and 143,000 kids under 18 who are alive today will ultimately die from smoking if we don’t act urgently to intervene.
“After failing to increase the cigarette tax in this year’s budget, Governor Murphy and the State Legislature have the moral imperative to do more to reduce tobacco use in New Jersey.
“While this budget falls short of prioritizing critical tobacco control strategies to reduce adult use and prevent young people from a lifetime of addiction, we look forward to working with the state legislature to do the right thing later this year and in the 2021 session.
In addition to working with the legislature to increase the cigarette tax next year, three other things the State Legislature can and should do right away to reduce tobacco use are 1) Enact comprehensive legislation to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including but not limited to menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars, hookah, and smokeless tobacco; 2) Permanently close the casino loophole that allows smoking to continue in casinos; and 3) Require Medicaid in New Jersey to cover all FDA-approved tobacco cessation medications as well as all types of cessation counseling..”