When it comes to tobacco control, New Jersey ranks 43rd in the nation in funding programs to prevent children from smoking and help smokers quit.

A new report by the American Cancer Society finds the state spends $1.2 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is only one percent of the amount recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The State of New Jersey is a caboose when it comes to spending on tobacco control,” said Blair Horner, Vice President of Advocacy at the American Cancer Society. “The state has a moral obligation to smokers. If they’re going to jack up the price of smoking, they should earmark at least a dime on the dollar to help people quit.”

Over the past five years, New Jersey has raised $5 billion in tobacco revenues and only 0.8 percent has been spent on tobacco control. “The state generates roughly a billion dollars in tobacco revenues a year and spends a little over a million dollars on programs to help smokers quit and to keep kids from smoking,” said Horner. “So not even a full penny of every dollar raised by tobacco taxes goes toward anti-smoking programs.”

“New Jersey will pay a high price in the long run with more children and teenagers smoking, more lives lost to tobacco and higher smoke-related health care costs,” said Horner. “The smokers who want to quit in New Jersey have a hard time doing it and the state should be providing resources to help make that happen and they’re not.”

Currently, 17 percent of high school students in New Jersey smoke and 9,700 more kids become regular smokers each year. This year, more than 11,000 New Jerseyans will die from smoking-related diseases.