Despite the fact that revenues from tobacco taxes and the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement among forty-six states and cigarette makers are at record highs, many states have cut funding for tobacco prevention programs by over 15 percent in the past year.
"Lawmakers and activists argue that we need to raise taxes to educate people, whether it's about smoking or obesity or whatever, and once the item is taxed and the money is there, it doesn't happen," says ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan.
"Ironically, if states are dependent on tobacco funding to close budget gaps, it makes them less likely to want smoking to come to an end," says ACSH's Todd Seavey.
New Jersey, for one, is taking steps to be proactive against cigarettes, just not cigarettes that contain tobacco. ACSH's friend and co-author of our publication on tobacco harm reduction Bill Godshall pointed out to us that senators from the Garden State have introduced legislation to ban the use of e-cigarettes in all indoor workplaces.
"It is so absurd to ban an e-cigarette that emits no toxic substances and poses no threat to smokers or those around them," says Dr. Whelan. "These devices give smokers an opportunity to quit using a deadly product, and the state wants to limit that opportunity for no reason. It makes no sense."