Smoking Cessation Programs Would Get a Boost Under Proposed Bill
In 2003, New Jersey set aside $30 million from its cigarette tax for smoking cessation programs, but then began dialing back the funding until completely eliminating it in the Fiscal Year 2012 State Budget. There is now a plan to get the programs up and running again with even more funding without asking anyone to pay more.
Introduced in late June, a bill (A-4668) would take 5 percent of the existing state tax on cigarettes and dedicate it to funding programs that help Garden State residents stop smoking. The measure was co-sponsored by Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-Paramus).
"This is not an additional tax on cigarettes. What it is is just to take 5 percent and return it to smoking cessation programs," said Eustace. "We're talking about a total of $33 million annually."
The money generated and dedicated would go to the New Jersey Department of Health to operate and expand the anti-smoking programs the department is currently funding through its own budget, the assemblyman said.
"We haven't funded these programs in years and there's no way to get these smoking cessation programs together unless we do something like this and this is not increasing any taxes," Eustace said.
The legislation's other co-sponsors are Assemblymen Carmelo Garcia (D-Hoboken), Raj Mukherji (D-Hoboken) and Adam Taliaferro (D-West Deptford). An identical version was not introduced in the New Jersey Senate.
For smoking reports and statistics as well as tips from former smokers to help you kick the habit, go to http://www.nj.gov/health/ctcp/index.shtml. The health department's Office of Tobacco Control also offers support at www.njquitline.org and 1-866-NJ-STOPS (657-8677).