TRENTON -- The statewide TV and radio campaign that highlights New Jersey's drug addiction epidemic and that promptly features Gov. Chris Christie came with a $2.6 million price tag.
And that figure is slated to grow.
The administration is bankrolling the anti-drug campaign with $2.6 million budgeted for the marketing agency Princeton Partners Inc., according to documents obtained under the state's Open Public Records Act.
The ad buy is separate from the administration's recent request for bids for "opioid advertising services."
A Christie spokesman, Brian Murray, said "existing funds in the state budget" were used to fund the project. But Murray has declined to provide any additional information on where the money is coming from.
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The campaign, dubbed "ReachNJ," features Christie encouraging people to call a new helpline, 1-844-REACH-NJ, and use the website ReachNJ.gov to find resources around the state to treat addiction.
Late last year, NJ Advance Media reported camera crews had been following the governor at public events centered on drug addiction.
A month later, Christie announced he would dedicate his last year in office to tackling the "crisis of drug addiction." The ads began appearing in New Jersey on New York and Philadelphia media markets later that same month.
PoliticoNJ was the first to report the campaign amount.
"New Jerseyans with drug addiction deserve a second chance. New Jersey is making it easier to find treatment," Christie says in the 30 second ad, showing him speaking from inside his Statehouse office. "Don't suffer. Don't wait. Help is within reach."Gov. Chris Christie.NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Christie unveiled about a dozen measures during his State of the State, including an initiative to press the state's attorney general to try and limit the supply of opioid-based pain medications by health care providers from 30 days to five days and "a one-stop website" to enhance awareness regarding treatment options and put addiction information in one place.
Christie's decision to highlight drug addiction in his last year in office comes as new data showed New Jersey's heroin death rate was more than two times more the skyrocketing nationwide rate in 2015.
New Jersey's opioid crisis has only deepened and expanded, killing at least 918 in 2015. More alarming is that its chemical cousin, the ultra-potent fentanyl, was implicated in more than 400 deaths after being responsible for just 46 two years before.
Matt Arco may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewArco or on Facebook.
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