State launches anti-tobacco campaign

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The New Jersey Department of Health launched STOMP (Stop Tobacco Offenses Merchant Program), a statewide merchant education program to strengthen compliance with New Jersey’s Tobacco 21 Law that raised the age to purchase tobacco products from 19 to 21. The initiative, which coincides with the American Cancer Society's Great American Smoke Out (GASO), features a STOMP Out Youth Tobacco Use campaign with tools to help tobacco merchants and their employees understand and enforce the law. It also encourages them to participate with their communities to keep tobacco out of the hands of kids.

“Tobacco merchants are essential in protecting New Jersey youth from the dangerous chemicals in tobacco products and e-cigarettes,” said Acting Health Commissioner Christopher Rinn. “With their support, young people will have less access to these harmful substances and more time to mature and develop a greater understanding of the harmful effects of smoking.”

Nearly 80 percent of all adult smokers begin smoking by age 18, and 90 percent do so before their 20th birthday, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The path to tobacco addiction starts at an early age, so delaying the age when young people begin using tobacco can reduce their risk of becoming regular or daily smokers and increase their chances of successfully quitting.

Tobacco-Free for a Healthy New Jersey, an initiative funded by DOH, is coordinating efforts among local partners across the state to reach out to tobacco merchants with tools and information about the law and inviting merchants to take a pledge to help STOMP out youth tobacco use.

The GASO is held on the third Thursday of November. DOH encourages smokers and tobacco prevention advocates to participate in the GASO by quitting smoking, making plans to quit and spreading the word about the dangers of smoking.

Cigarette smoking continues to be a leading cause of preventable death and disability in the United States. About 13.5 percent of New Jersey adults between ages 18 and 24 smoke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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