New Jersey does not spend any  state money promoting tobacco control and prevention, putting it at the bottom of an annual report released by the American Cancer Society Action Network's report on how states spend funds from the 1998 tobacco settlement.

The state has been at the bottom of the list for at the 4th year in a row as only a minimal amount of federal dollars goes to support stop smoking programs in New Jersey.

"It really is tragic news. New Jersey is the only state in the union that doesn't spend the money," said Marc Kaplan, communication director for the ACS CAN's eastern division. "The report is called Broken Promises To Our Kids because the states, when they were in the tobacco settlement agreed to spend a significant portion on helping with tobacco prevention and control. New Jersey does not spend one penny of state funds despite the fact that the Centers for Disease Control recommends that New Jersey be spending $103 million a year."

According to the ACS CAN getting the message out there is key to helping people quit as it very difficult to just stop smoking.

"Helplines, consultations, advertising, very dramatic media ads that show what smoking can do can all help discourage people,especially young people. A lot of young people don't really want to start and there are a lot of opportunities being missed by New Jersey," Kaplan said. "A lot of those TV spots scare people" into quitting when they see what smoking does to their body.

Kaplan said 5,400 people under the age of 18 become regular smokers yearly. They'll be discouraged If they get the message before a certain age "but once they get used to smoking it's really difficult to stop."

Kaplan isn't sure why New Jersey isn't spending the money. "We're always urging the governor and the legislature for the funds," he said.

Smoking costs NJ $4 billion in health care and 11,800 people lose their lives because of smoking according to the report.

In New Jersey, tobacco is responsible for 11,800 deaths each year, according to the report, and costs the state $4 billion in smoking related health care costs.

Nationwide, only 1.8 percent of the $25.8 billion to be collected by states from the tobacco settlement funds and tobacco taxes will be spent on prevention and cessation programs according to the ACS CAN. North Dakota is the only state that spends more than the levels recommended by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

State funding for tobacco prevention (American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network)
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