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NJ Must Do Better on Tobacco Prevention Efforts (Star Ledger Opinion)

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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. 15.7% of NJ adults still smoke, and among New Jersey high school students, 12.9 percent smoke.
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.