Camden City Council Passes Resolution Urging New Jersey Legislature to Pass Syringe Access Legislation

Press Release September 28, 2006
Media Contact

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

Trenton – The Camden City Council last night passed Resolution 55 supporting Senate Bills 494 and 823 and Assembly Bills 1852 and 2839. The bills would allow municipalities to establish syringe access programs and allow for the sale of limited numbers of syringes without prescriptions in pharmacies. Senate Bill 494 was voted out of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on Monday September 18th.

The resolution is part of the Campaign for a Healthier New Jersey’s Fall ’06 Initiative, a renewed advocacy effort to support sterile syringe access. “New Jersey is closer than ever to finally doing the right thing on sterile syringe access,” said Roseanne Scotti, Director of Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey. “But our coalition and supporters are not going to let up the pressure now. Stigma and ignorance have stood in the way of this legislation in the past. This time we plan to make sure that evidence and good public health policy prevail.”

Camden has passed two similar resolutions in support of sterile syringe access in the past and in 2004 went so far as to try and create its own sterile syringe access program by passing an ordinance. The ordinance was later struck down by a court which held that municipalities do not have the authority to establish their own sterile syringe access programs absent state legislation. The Campaign for a Healthier New Jersey Fall ’06 Initiative plans to get new resolutions in other cities that have previously passed resolutions, including Newark, Jersey City, New Brunswick and Atlantic City.

Campaign for a Healthier New Jersey supporters include the Medical Society of New Jersey, the New Jersey State Nurses Association, Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey, the AIDS Resource Foundation for Children, the National Association of Social Workers-New Jersey Chapter, the Garden State Pharmacy Owners, the New Jersey Council of Chain Drug Stores, the New Jersey Pharmacists Association, the Independent Pharmacy Alliance, the Licensed Practical Nurse Association of New Jersey, the New Jersey Women and AIDS Network, the New Jersey Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, the New Jersey Association of Mental Health Agencies, and the Dogwood Center.

Two months ago, Delaware passed syringe access legislation, making New Jersey the last state in the nation with no access whatsoever to sterile syringes to prevent the spread of diseases. New Jersey has the 5th highest number of adult HIV cases, the 3rd high number of pediatric HIV cases and the highest proportion of HIV infections among women in the nation. Most striking, the state’s rate of HIV infection related to the sharing of contaminated syringes is twice the national average.

Jose Quann, who runs the neighborhood health van for the Camden Area Health Education Center (AHEC) and is a member of the Camden HIV/AIDS Advisory Commission applauded the Council’s renewed support. “Camden is in desperate need of this life-saving syringe access program that will allow injection drug users to access sterile syringes and also to access referrals to drug treatment and other health services,” said Quann.

Emery Troy, chair of the Camden HIV/AIDS Advisory Committee and a member of the Governor’s HIV/AIDS Commission expressed thanks to the Council for their continued support. “We’re very excited that the city still supports sterile syringe access,” said Troy. “We encourage the legislature to listen to the voices of the cities and communities that want these programs and vote yes on this life-saving legislation.”

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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