New Lung Association Report: Ending Tobacco Use in New Jersey Critical to Saving Lives, Especially during Pandemic

Michael Seilback is national assistant vice president for public policy, American Lung AssociationMichael Seilback is national assistant vice president for public policy, American Lung Association

TRENTON, NJ (SBN) – Even amid the pandemic, tobacco use remains a serious public health threat. In addition to tobacco-related death and disease, smoking also increases the risk of the most severe impacts of COVID-19, making ending tobacco use more important than ever. This year’s “State of Tobacco Control” report from the American Lung Association grades federal and state efforts to reduce tobacco use and calls for meaningful policies that will prevent and reduce tobacco use and save lives. The report finds that New Jersey earned failing grades on its efforts to reduce and prevent tobacco use, including e-cigarettes.

Tobacco use remains the nation’s leading cause of preventable death and disease, taking an estimated 480,000 lives every year. Much like COVID-19, tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure disproportionately impacts certain communities, including communities of color, LGTBQ+ Americans and persons of lower income. To address this critical public health threat, “State of Tobacco Control” outlines solutions to close this gap and provides a roadmap for the federal and state policies needed to prevent and reduce tobacco use.

In an exclusive interview with SBN, Michael Seilback, American Lung Association National AVP, State Public Policy, says New Jersey received weak grades in all but one area covered by the report.

New Jersey’s Grades

“State of Tobacco Control” 2021 grades states and the District of Columbia in five areas that have been proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use and save lives. New Jersey received the following grades:

  1. Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F
  2. Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – Grade A
  3. Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade F
  4. Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade D
  5. NEW! Ending the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products  – Grade D

Listen to the complete conversation with Lung Association AVP Michael Seilback in the player below.


The 19th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report grades states and the federal government on policies proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use, and finds that while New Jersey has taken significant steps to reduce tobacco use, including being the first in the nation to sign a law prohibiting the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and advancing public health during the pandemic by reopening casinos in Atlantic City smokefree, elected officials should do more to save lives in 2021. To ensure all New Jersey residents benefit from reductions in tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke, the American Lung Association urges New Jersey to amend the flavored tobacco prohibition law to include all flavored products, including mint and menthol; and to pass a law ensuring the Atlantic City casinos remain smokefree.

“State of Tobacco Control” 2021 also grades the federal government in five areas:

  • Federal Government Regulation of Tobacco Products (2021 grade – D)
  • Federal Coverage of Quit Smoking Treatments (2021 grade – D)
  • Level of Federal Tobacco Taxes (2021 grade – F)
  • Federal Mass Media Campaigns to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use (2021 grade – A)
  • Federal Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 (2021 grade – A)

“State of Tobacco Control” 2021 provides an important roadmap on how states like New Jersey and the federal government can put in place the policies proven to have the greatest impact on reducing tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. Because of COVID-19, we are all thinking more about lung health. Now is the time for lawmakers in New Jersey to act and take this opportunity to achieve lasting reductions in tobacco-related death and disease,” said Seilback.