Opinion: Cigarette tax would lessen suffering from cancer

More than 53,000 New Jerseyans are expected to be diagnosed with cancer this year and almost 16,000 will lose their lives from the disease. Smoking remains the No. 1 cause of preventable death.

In addition, people who choose to smoke not only harm themselves, but also those around them. Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer in adults who have never smoked. Secondhand smoke causes more than 7,300 lung cancer deaths among U.S. nonsmokers each year.

By helping our residents quit smoking or never start, our state leaders can act to lower those numbers. I ask that they take every step possible and act quickly to save lives and protect health.

In his revised budget, Gov. Phil Murphy has proposed raising New Jerseyโ€™s cigarette tax by $1.65 per pack. It has been demonstrated that a strong tobacco control program and a significant cigarette tax are two of the most powerful steps to help address the deadly smoking issue. We must not allow the health and lives of these New Jerseyans to continue to be at risk.

By supporting such an increase in the cigarette tax we could ensure progress continues to reduce suffering and death from cancer and other diseases. I ask that our state legislature works to enact the $1.65 per pack cigarette tax increase.

Mona Shah
Volunteer, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
Princeton