More Funds Needed In NJ State Budget For Anti-tobacco Programs
A Call to Gov. Chris Christie to increase Tobacco Control Budget to $30 million for 2013.
To the Editor:
Well, it’s that time of year again. Next month, the NJ Legislature will be voting on the Fiscal Year 2013 budget. The current plan is to continue to fund Tobacco Control at $1.2 million. This is simply not enough.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that the state provides $119.8 million on tobacco cessation and prevention. New Jersey comes in at 43rd in the nation for funding anti-tobacco programs and initiatives. Treatment and prevention programs work, from a health and financial perspective. Data from Massachusetts and Washington State confirm that for every $1 spent on tobacco control results in a health care cost savings between $3 and $5. Tobacco prevention and treatment initiatives save lives and money.
In 2009, approximately 11,200 New Jersey residents died from a tobacco-related illness. In addition, tobacco use costs the state an estimated $3.17 billion in health care bills annually. This includes $967 million in Medicaid
payments alone, which are funded by tax payers. Tobacco causes cancer, strokes, heart disease, and emphysema, to name a few.
More than 70 percent of smokers report that they want to quit, yet, last year, the State of New Jersey turned away people seeking smoking cessation services because of a lack of funding. Whether you look at it from a fiscally responsible or compassionate care viewpoint, it just makes sense to treat tobacco dependence.
In New Jersey alone, we collect over $1 billion dollars per year in tobacco tax and revenues, and yet we are allotted only $1.2 million dollars to help smokers who want to quit, as well as provide programs aimed at prevention programs in the schools. Not even a full penny of every dollar raised by tobacco taxes goes to help people quit smoking. I appreciate the position that Gov. Chris Christie and the legislature have taken on funding for other addictions, and I encourage them to consider an increase of the Tobacco Control budget to $30 million in 2013.
Patricia Dooley Budsock, M.A., LPC
Mental Health Clinician, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School