Are anti-smoking efforts going up in smoke? | Cigarettes Blog

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Are anti-smoking efforts going up in smoke?

After years of decline, smoking rates in New Jersey are on the rise again.

In its recently released State of Tobacco Control report for 2010, the American Lung Association says the number of adults who smoke in New Jersey rose last year to 15.8 percent, up from 14.8 percent a year earlier.

The report also showed the smoking rate among New Jersey high school students increasing to 17 percent, up from 14.3 percent. The data was culled from federal surveys through the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention that were done in 2009.

Such numbers would seemingly provide reason for the state to expand its anti-smoking and smoking cessation programs. But, because of the $11 billion deficit in the state budget last year, New Jersey slashed its funding for such programs in July from $7.6 million to just $600,000. . . .


Those who are working to combat smoking in the Garden State are wondering what will happen to smoking rates in New Jersey in the years to come, as the tobacco companies continue to spend more than $200 million a year to market an expanding line of products here.

They also are wondering if state funding for effective anti-tobacco programs will ever be restored or even wiped out entirely. And they are wondering if the number of deaths tied directly to smoking in New Jersey -- 11,201 last year -- and the economic cost to the state -- nearly $5.6 billion in 2010 -- will rise.

The state Department of Health and Senior Services says it will closely monitor new smoking figures to see if the increase was an anomaly or a new trend.
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"That tobacco settlement money was for tobacco treatment and prevention," lamented Connie Greene, vice president of the Institute for Prevention with the Saint Barnabus Health System. "It was never written into the agreement that it had to be spent that way." . . .


"We're the only hospital in the state to pick up all the funding for these services," said Greene. "There are no services now throughout the state. I don't know how patients in some regions are going to get the help they need."

Jacobs says the worth of these programs is clear. Smokers trying to quit stand just a 4 percent to 5 percent chance of kicking the habit for good on their own. With medical and counseling help, like what is available at Saint Barnabus through the quit centers, smokers have a 40 percent to 45 percent chance of permanently breaking their addiction. http://bit.ly/hMLIMw

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