A Tobacco Control Policy & Legal Resource Center
Supporting Smokefree Air & Tobacco-Free Lives

NJ State Tobacco Control Budget

New Jersey minimally funds its Statewide Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program

Attention is being drawn to the need for New Jersey State tobacco control and prevention funding, for the State’s fiscal year budget 2015-16 (the Governor introduces his proposed budget in February 2015).   On December 22, 2014, the NJ Star-Ledger newspaper published an opinion from the President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that focuses on the need for New Jersey to fund tobacco prevention programming. Highlights of the opinion are:

  • 15.7% of NJ adults and 12.9% of New Jersey high school students still smoke, highlighting the need for state tobacco control and prevention programming. 
  • Annually, New Jersey spends $4.06 billion on costs for ailments directly caused by smoking (with Medicaid only covering $967 million). Lost productivity due to smoking amounts to $2.6 billion. To put this in perspective, state and federal taxes from smoking-related government spending cost each household in the state $654 a year. 
  • In 2013, New Jersey received more than $396 million from the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) which is money  intended to fund prevention initiatives as per the 1998 MSA. and as of June 24, 2014, it received more than $204 million. In light of these numbers, the CDC’s recommendation that New Jersey spend $103.3 million on prevention seems more than reasonable. Yet NJ does not set aside state funds for tobacco prevention efforts. 
  • New Jersey is second only to Maryland in median family income, with Connecticut, Massachusetts and Hawaii rounding out the top five. But when it comes to funding tobacco prevention, our income peers far outspend us: for anti-tobacco efforts Maryland budgets $8.5 million, Connecticut $3.5 million, Massachusetts $3.9 million, and Hawaii $7.5 million. 

In 2014, attempts were made to have the 2014-15 state budget include increased tobacco taxes and institute a tax on electronic smoking devices and related products.  Senator Vitale sponsored the bill to effectuate this, but the bill did not receive the necessary support to move it forward when the budget was finalized in late June 2014.  NJ Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. supported of the state funding New Jersey’s tobacco control and prevention programs, as noted in his letter and news article published in PolitickerNJ on January 30, 2014.   

The FY 2012-13 New Jersey State Budget (July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013) that was approved in summer 2012, drastically cut State funding for the New Jersey Department of Health’s Office on Tobacco Control (NJOTC). Funding is mostly from the collection of the State’s annual cigarette retailer licensing fees in the amount of $500,000. New Jersey ranks LAST of all states spending on Tobacco Control Cessation. View a NJTV News video.

The prior year’s FY 2011-12 New Jersey State Budget (July 1, 2011-June 30, 2012) that was approved on June 30, 2011, funded NJOTC with State funding in the amount of $1.2 million, of which $500,000 was from the State’s annual cigarette retailer licensing fees. Read the January 25, 2012 NJ Spotlight article on reduced New Jersey State funding for smoking prevention and cessation, and encouraging consistent tobacco tax rates between tobacco products, and the January 19, 2012 NJ Today news article. The prior year’s FY 2010-11 Budget was minimal as well. Previously, the NJOTC (then called the NJ Tobacco Control Program) was State-funded at $7.5 million, and prior to that, there was a time that the State funded the program at $30 million.

Watch Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D., a former New Jersey Commissioner of Health, on the February 10, 2012 edition of NJ Capital Report. He discusses the need for New Jersey to fund the state’s tobacco control program at a previous level of $30 million. Dr. Jacobs is currently President of GASP’s Board of Trustees, and the Chair of the Tobacco Strike Force for the Northeastern Division of the American Cancer Society.

Read an August 25, 2013 Philly.com news article about the lack of funding for tobacco cessation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and the potential impact on future smoking rates.

Read the February 2013 Op-Ed piece, presented here in English and Spanish, by Dr. Jeannette Noltenius, National Director of the National Latino Tobacco Control Network, which discusses the benefits of funding state tobacco control and prevention programs at adequate levels, and how Latinos and other minority groups are at risk to have illnesses and prematurely die from tobacco, if recent funding declines are not reversed.

The American Lung Association (ALA) publishes its annual State of Tobacco Control report, giving New Jersey low grades for tobacco control program spending and tobacco. Read the NJ highlights and the report card from the current ALA report.

In December 2012, A Broken Promise to Our Children, which is a national annual report, ranked New Jersey at 50th (tied in last place) for funding its statewide tobacco control program with State dollars. Learn more about this annual national report on state ranking. Read the December 29, 2012 NJ Star-Ledger’s Opinion Letter by the American Cancer Society on the 2012 report’s New Jersey findings.

Cutting the budget for statewide tobacco control programs is expensive in the long-run, according to the August 2012 Health Policy Paper from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:

  • Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and costs the nation $96 billion annually in health care costs and an additional $97 billion in lost productivity.
  • Tobacco prevention and cessation efforts, especially well-funded and comprehensive programs, are proven to reduce tobacco use and lower associated healthcare costs, providing a strong return on investment (ROI).
  • Despite revenue streams from tobacco use and high ROIs, the most successful prevention programs have been cut repeatedly over the past five years.

Read the May 24, 2012 news article about the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report which shows the States’ spending levels for tobacco control programs. The article points out, “Between 1998 and 2010, states have collected nearly $244 billion in cigarette taxes and settlement money, compared with only $8.1 billion earmarked for state tobacco control efforts… States that have spent larger amounts on tobacco control programs have seen cigarette sales fall about twice as much as in the U.S. overall.” Read the May 25, 2012 CDC report.

The ALA publishes its annual report, Helping Smokers Quit – Tobacco Cessation Coverage 2012, which identifies the most and least supportive States on tobacco cessation coverage. For the ALA’s 2012 report, New Jersey ranked as being one of the 5th least supportive States for smokers who are trying to quit. Read ALA’s 2011 report, Helping Smokers Quit – Tobacco Cessation Coverage 2011. On December 12, 2011, the Star Ledger Editorial Board published an editorial on New Jersey being one of the 5 least supportive states for smokers who are trying to quit.

In April 2010, Penn State University researchers published a report, Potential Cost Benefits of Smoking Cessation in New Jersey. The report concluded that smoking “… costs the residents and the state’s economy $30.29 per pack when lost wages, premature death and health care expenses are factored in…Smoking costs the state $8.3 billion, including $3.6 billion in health care expenses and $1.8 billion in lost wages, according to the analysis.” Read the September 2010 Star-Ledger article about the findings from an April 2010 study released by the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic regio; read the report summary and the full report. Read the September 21, 2010 Courier-Post editorial in support of dedicating a portion of the New Jersey cigarette taxes to fund strong smoking cessation and prevention programs in New Jersey.

Increasing NJOTC’s State funding aligns with federal strategic initiatives to prevent and reduce tobacco use and exposure. On May 11, 2010, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius outlined her Department’s Strategic Initiatives, which includes preventing and reducing tobacco use. Read her set of four actions to accelerate this initiative. Read Secretary Sebelius’ CNN commentary from March 19, 2010 entitled, New Tobacco Rules Good For Kids.

Since July 1, 2010, there is very limited state funding for NJOTC activities, and limited federal funding from the CDC. The U.S. Surgeon General’s Office continues to recommend increased state funding for state tobacco control programs, as referenced in its December 2010 Report which concludes that even occasional exposure to tobacco smoke is harmful and damage is immediate. Visit our webpage about the U.S. Surgeon General’s report and its findings, conclusions and recommendations. Recommendations include:

  • “No one should have to breathe secondhand smoke at work or in public places, and parents should ensure that homes, cars and other places frequented by children are smoke-free.” Federal, state and local policymakers need to to step up their efforts to implement proven measures that reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • States must increase tobacco taxes, enact smoke-free workplace laws and fully fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs at CDC-recommended levels.

For years, New Jersey tobacco control advocates have worked tirelessly to educate policymakers and the public at large, on the need to fund NJOTC and related activities. Going forward, the New Jersey legislature could introduce legislation to increase the licensing fees to sell cigarettes, and create a licensing fee system to sell other tobacco products, earmarking such fees to fund NJOTC.

Click here for a 2010 archive of GASP’s webpages on NJOTC funding that were posted online during Spring 2010. These webpages help to educate the public and advocates on the positive outcomes of funding NJ OTC and the negative impact from the loss of funding. The information may be helpful, especially if the legislature takes an interest in raising licensing fees for tobacco, with the revenue going towards funding NJ OTC.