Governor McGreevey Betrays New… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Governor McGreevey Betrays New Jersey’s Kids and Taxpayers by Proposing Deep Cuts to Tobacco Prevention

Statement by William V. Corr Executive Vice-President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
February 05, 2003

Washington, D.C. — Governor James McGreevey has betrayed New Jersey's kids and taxpayers by proposing to cut funding for the state's tobacco prevention program by 67 percent, from $30 million in FY2003 to $10 million in FY2004. His budget plan breaks the promise he made in his campaign, in last year's budget agreement and in policy pronouncements to reduce cancer rates in New Jersey. If put into effect, these cuts will result in more kids smoking, more tobacco-caused cancer and heart disease, and higher health care costs.

Despite difficult budget times, it is unconscionable that he would decimate the bold plan he developed and pushed through the Legislature last year to improve New Jersey's health and lower health care costs. The plan called for reducing tobacco-caused disease – New Jersey's leading preventable cause of death – by maintaining and eventually increasing the state's commitment to its highly successful tobacco prevention program.

The right course for New Jersey kids and taxpayers is for the Legislature to immediately reject this proposal and stand behind current law, which calls for maintaining tobacco prevention funding at $30 million in FY2004 and increasing funding to $45 million by FY2006. $45 million is the MINIMUM amount the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the state spend on tobacco prevention. Tobacco prevention is one of the best investments New Jersey can make. States with effective prevention programs have achieved significant reductions in smoking among both kids and adults, while saving up to $3 for every $1 spent on tobacco prevention.

Despite facing a budget deficit, New Jersey is actually collecting more tobacco-generated revenue than ever before because the state increased its cigarette tax by 70 cents last year. New Jersey's FY2003 spending of $30 million on tobacco prevention represents only 3.2 percent of the approximately $942 million a year in revenue the state collects from tobacco taxes and the state tobacco settlement. Surely the Governor can keep his promise to use a small part of the state's tobacco revenues to protect our kids from tobacco and reduce tobacco-caused disease and death

A report we and other leading public health organizations released last month praised New Jersey as one of the 'best states of 2002' for increasing its cigarette tax and committing to funding tobacco prevention. Governor McGreevey's new budget proposal undoes this progress and would cause the state to tumble from being one of the best in the country to one of the worst.

New Jersey has the third highest rate of cancer in the country and 29.4 percent of the state's high school students currently smoke. 19,700 kids become addicted smokers every year, one-third of whom will die prematurely as a result. Smoking-caused health care costs New Jersey and its taxpayers $2.48 billion a year.