New Jersey Assembly Passes Sterile Syringe Access Legislation that Would Prevent the Spread of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C

Press Release December 4, 2011
Media Contact

Roseanne Scotti 609-610-8243 or Tony Newman 646-335-5384</p>

Trenton—Today, the New Jersey State Assembly passed life-saving legislation 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 54-24.  New Jersey is one of only two states (the other state is Delaware) that completely ban over-the-counter sales of syringes.

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).

The bill now moves to the Governor's desk for his final consideration.  The Senate companion bill, S958, passed with broad bipartisan support last February by a vote of 28-12.

Advocates cheered the passage of the bill and expressed hope that the Governor will sign this life-saving legislation.  "This is a historic moment," said Roseanne Scotti, New Jersey State Director for Drug Policy Alliance.  "This is the first time the New Jersey legislature has voted to join the overwhelming majority of other states in allowing limited sales of syringes without a prescription.  This legislation has overwhelming support from the medical and public health community.  Governor Christie now has the opportunity to sign this legislation that will help end AIDS and save lives."  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 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.

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

Sign up for updates from DPA.