N.J. Lawmakers Eye Tobacco Tax Hike for New Fiscal Year
TRENTON, N.J. -- With the new fiscal year four months away, some New Jersey lawmakers are considering raising the tax on all non-cigarette tobacco products in a bid to add revenue to the state's coffers. The move under consideration would tax all tobacco products at the same level.
Currently, cigarettes are taxed at $2.70 a pack in New Jersey. The nearly $770 million raised from the tax is put toward paying a state bond issue, reimbursing hospitals for charity care to the poor and uninsured, and funding general costs of state government, according to NJ Spotlight.
However, of the revenue, only $1.5 million was allocated to tobacco control programs last year. That figure stood at $30 million in 2003. Lawmakers want to increase that allocation and hope the increased state levy on tobacco products will do just that.
"The state still has some elements of smoking cessation programs in place but they are a shadow of their former selves," said Sen. Joseph F. Vitale (D-Middlesex). "It's not that as thought the state isn't interested and doesn't care. It does some things but not nearly what it needs to do."
Vitale, who chairs the Senate's health committee, hopes to pass tobacco tax parity legislation with the 2013 state budget. The state budget must be approved by the legislature and signed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie before the July 1 start of the new fiscal year.