Press Release  | 11/21/2011

New Jersey Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee Passes Sterile Syringe Access Legislation to Prevent the Spread of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C

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Legislation Passes 8-1-2 with Bi-Partisan Support

Public Health and HIV Prevention Advocates Cheer Passage of Life-Saving Legislation

Trenton—Today, the New Jersey Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee approved a life-saving bill to allow for the sale of limited numbers of syringes in pharmacies without a prescription.   The legislation received bi-partisan support, passing by a vote of 8-1-2.  New Jersey is one of only two states (the other is Delaware) that completely ban over-the-counter sales of syringes.

The bill now moves to the floor for a vote by the full Assembly, which could happen as soon as December 5th.  The Senate companion bill, S958, passed with broad bipartisan support last February by a vote of 28-12, and the Assembly has twice-approved versions of this legislation in past sessions.

Advocates cheered the Committee's approval of the bill.  "This is a victory for good public health policy," said Roseanne Scotti, New Jersey State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "This legislation will cost the state nothing and will save lives and taxpayer dollars."  In the last several years, states including Pennsylvania, Illinois and Massachusetts have passed laws allowing for sales of syringes without a prescription.

Every scientific, medical, and professional body to study the issue has concluded that access to sterile syringes reduces the spread of blood-borne diseases and does not increase drug use.  Although syringe access programs have existed in New Jersey since 2006, the law providing for their establishment capped the number of permissible locations at six.

Assembly Bill 1088 is sponsored by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen), Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex), Assemblywoman Joan Voss (D-Bergen), Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker (D-Essex), Assemblywoman Joan Quigley (D-Bergen and Hudson) and Assemblyman Thomas Giblin (D-Essex and Passaic).

Assembly Bill 1088 is supported by a long list of public health and advocacy organizations including: the American Diabetes Association, the Diabetes Foundation, Inc., the Garden State Association of Diabetes Educators, the New Jersey State Nurses Association, the New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians, the Garden State Pharmacy Owners, the New Jersey Pharmacists Association, the New Jersey Council of Chain Drug Stores, the New Jersey Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, Homeside Hospice, the Hepatitis C Association, Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, the New Jersey Hospital Association, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, South Jersey AIDS Alliance, and Well-of-Hope Drop-In Center.

Roseanne Scotti 609-610-8243 or Tony Newman 646-335-5384

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