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For Release:
April 30, 2004

Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.

For Further Information Contact:
NJDHSS: Donna Leusner
(609) 984-7160
Fleishman-Hillard: Lisa Holmes
(212) 453-2489

New Jersey REBEL Honors Hollywood Screenwriter and Cancer Survivor Joe Eszterhas for His Fight Against Tobacco Use


More than 1000 members of REBEL (Reaching Everyone By Exposing Lies), New Jersey’s statewide youth anti-tobacco movement honored renowned Hollywood screenwriter and throat cancer survivor Joe Eszterhas at the 2004 Annual REBEL Statewide Summit at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, NJ.  Mr. Eszterhas received the “Fight the Good Fight” award in recognition of his ongoing efforts to eliminate smoking in movies and his commitment to educating the public about the dangers of tobacco use. The announcement that Mr. Eszterhas will work with REBEL to script an original public service announcement (PSA) highlighting the NJ program was a highlight of the day.

The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services sponsors REBEL and its activities statewide. “It has been 40 years since the first Surgeon General’s Report linking smoking to cancer, and smoking is still the number one preventable cause of death and disease in the nation.  REBEL is working to change that unfortunate reality,” said Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.  REBEL’s anti-tobacco events throughout the State, reading and mentoring program in grade schools, public speaking engagements, petition drives, and media interviews are important to change the way our society looks at tobacco use.”

REBEL member Justin Maxfield noted, “We Fight the Good Fight against tobacco use every day. Since the founding of REBEL, smoking rates are down 42 percent in New Jersey middle schools and 11 percent in New Jersey high schools. We understand the value of commitment. The ‘Fight the Good Fight’ award honors people who are taking that commitment to a national level. This year’s recipient, Joe Eszterhas, is the first major Hollywood figure to call for a voluntary industry-wide ban of smoking in films.”

Mr. Eszterhas wants to save today’s teens from the anguish he has experienced: “I glamorized smoking in my movies. Then I got throat cancer. Maybe that’s my punishment. Please, don’t let people like me kill you.” REBEL then premiered “The 100-Year Old Man,” the third in a series of inspirational, pull-no-punches original PSAs Mr. Eszterhas developed with American History X director, Tony Kaye, as part of his national “Join Joe” anti-tobacco campaign. The PSA, aimed at young audiences, notes, “Cancer isn’t cool. Cancer isn’t rock and roll. Cancer hurts, cancer makes you cry, and then it kills you.”

The “Join Joe” campaign is an effort to provide support for those seeking help quitting smoking through a non-commercial Web site, that links people to a variety of free programs and information. The site is also a call to action for smokers to “Join Joe” in quitting tobacco, providing a forum for public support. Mr. Eszterhas received his cancer treatment at the Cleveland Clinic, which subsequently became the home for the Join Joe campaign.

Mr. Eszterhas, the writer of such popular films as Flashdance and Basic Instinct announced that he will work with REBEL to develop a PSA especially for New Jersey audiences to be distributed to television stations and theaters for airing over the next year.

REBEL is just one of many initiatives sponsored by NJDHSS and funded with money from the increase in New Jersey’s tobacco excise tax. New Jersey’s Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program is designed to reduce the sickness, disability, and death among New Jerseyans associated with the use of tobacco and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. To learn more about REBEL, go to


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