Health Advocates Commend Assembly Action on Lifesaving Tobacco Prevention Measure Following Christies Conditional Veto

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TRENTON, NJ –July 31, 2017 – The New Jersey Assembly has passed a lifesaving bill (A3338) that would dedicate one percent, approximately $7 million, of cigarette and tobacco tax dollars, to the New Jersey tobacco control program. This action follows Governor Christie’s conditional veto of the earlier version of the bill. The conditional veto simply sent the legislation back to the Assembly and the Senate with a later date of implementation. The new date of implementation would be July 1, 2018.

A coalition of advocates applauded the Assembly and Assemblymen Tim Eustace and Joseph Lagana for their continued leadership on this important issue, and commended Governor Christie for his recognition of the need for more appropriate state funding of the tobacco cessation and prevention efforts in New Jersey. They also thanked Senator Brian Stack and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg for their history of support for this bill and asked for quick action in concurrence with the conditionally vetoed version.

This funding is a first step toward saving lives in New Jersey. The advocates included: American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN); Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids; American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, American Lung Association and New Jersey Prevention Network.

Brian Shott, New Jersey government relations director of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) said: “If enacted this will be a first step to help New Jerseyans break the cycle of tobacco addiction by allocating cigarette and tobacco tax dollars to a comprehensive tobacco control program. This new law would help save lives. Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of death in the United States. This year, it is projected that over 51,000 New Jerseyans will be diagnosed with cancer and nearly 16,000 in our state will die due to this disease. While disappointed that this law will not be enacted sooner, we look forward to the support for people who smoke and to protect those who don’t from starting to use these deadly products.”

Amy Barkley, regional advocacy director, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids said, “In New Jersey, tobacco kills 11,800 people and costs over $4 billion in health care expenses each year. And 143,000 kids alive in New Jersey today will die prematurely from smoking – unless policymakers take strong action now. If enacted, this legislation will help prevent kids from starting to use tobacco and save lives. New Jersey must not continue to turn its back on people who need help.”

Corinne Orlando, director of government relations for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association said: “For too long, tobacco prevention and cessation efforts have been woefully underfunded in New Jersey. This bill will provide much needed resources to fight the number one cause of preventable death. Tobacco use is a risk factor for many chronic diseases, including heart disease and stroke and passage of this bill moves NJ in the right direction.

Deborah Brown, executive vice president/Mid-Atlantic Region, American Lung Association said: “While the American Lung Association in New Jersey is disappointed in the one-year delay, we are glad to see New Jersey will once again be allocating funding to combat the number one preventable cause of death in the state. We look forward to lawmakers following through on this commitment in next year’s state budget.”

Diane Litterer, CEO, New Jersey Prevention Network said: “Public health professionals across the state are committed to and skilled in implementing CDC’s recommended best practices in tobacco prevention and cessation. We need the Governor and the legislators to support these efforts so that New Jersey can increase the evidence based interventions that will prevent our youth from starting the use of tobacco and provide cessation services to those needing treatment from their addiction to tobacco.”

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