TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey this year will begin repaying hundreds of millions of dollars to bondholders after converting tobacco settlement money into $90 million to fill a budget hole in 2014.
The repayment comes as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has dedicated his final year in office to addressing the state's opioid crisis.
But the state's failure to spend on smoking cessation efforts when thousands of people are still dying annually from tobacco-related illnesses has drawn derision from advocates and public health officials.
Instead of spending millions from a landmark 1998 settlement with the tobacco industry on smoking cessation efforts, the state will begin repaying about $50 million to $60 million each year through 2023.