By David Madden
TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — The American Cancer Society has issued its annual report on the efforts of states to curb smoking and overall tobacco use, and has found New Jersey dead last in terms of spending state money on programs to help people kick the habit.
New Jersey takes in $1 billion a year from tobacco, three-fourths of that from tax revenue. But not one penny of that is earmarked for smoking cessation programs.
Ethan Hasbrouck, advocacy director for the American Cancer Society’s “Cancer Action Network,” suggests this area could use some help.
“South Jersey has a much higher smoking rate than is observed in the northern New Jersey area and, as a result, they also have some of the highest lung cancer rates,” he tells KYW Newsradio.
The group is aiming to have ten cents of every dollar raised in the state earmarked to help people quit smoking in one way or another.
Officials in New Jersey’s state health department counter with statistics of their own, showing New Jersey with the lowest adult smoking rates in the nation. They say that federally funded efforts also provide options for those looking to quit.
Hasbrouck says he’s made his case to state officials, but hasn’t seen a lot of effort to change the current funding formula.
By contrast, Pennsylvania spends $14 million in state money each year on anti-smoking programs, and ranks 28th on the national list.