Tobacco Free Mass’ revised bylaws include a new mission and vision, a new set of commitment statements, and a list of strategies.
We work for the day when no person in the Commonwealth is addicted to nicotine and is no longer impacted by the harmful effects of tobacco use on health and wellbeing.
Tobacco Free Mass advocates for legislation, policies and programs that counteract the tobacco industry’s impact on the people of Massachusetts, focusing on those most affected by tobacco use and its harms. We work to increase awareness of tobacco issues, help tobacco and nicotine users quit, prevent young people from starting, and ensure that no one is exposed to secondhand smoke or e-cigarette aerosol.
Tobacco Free Mass and its partners in the tobacco control movement have made substantial progress driving down tobacco use in Massachusetts. As the overall rate of tobacco use has decreased, the disparities between the state average and groups with high rates of tobacco use have become more pronounced. We commit to examining how these groups are affected by tobacco use and to report annually what we are doing to address these disparities.
People who are Black, Hispanic, LGBTQ+, have low incomes, and/or those who report having poor behavioral health are currently the most affected by tobacco. This situation is a crisis caused by a combination of tobacco industry targeting and the disproportionate burden of health problems caused by systemic and institutional racism and other structural inequities. To properly respond, we need engagement and leadership from these disproportionately affected groups. We commit to actively recruiting leadership from these groups to roles on our decision-making bodies.
The tobacco industry is well-funded, tenacious, and continues to be active in Massachusetts. It works to make its products appear harmless and acceptable through pervasive marketing, maintaining a strong presence in communities, manipulating small businesses, and influencing decision-makers. We commit to monitoring tobacco industry activity and countering its actions.
We use rigorous data to shape our policy focus and drive our decisions. Through discussion and deliberation, our members provide context for the numbers and determine appropriate action. Our understanding of complex issues is enhanced through a diversity of expertise and perspectives. We commit to thoughtful, inclusive conversations about data and decision-making.
We support the work of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program. Its actions to promote cessation, prevent initiation, institute protections from secondhand smoke, promote a tobacco free social norm, and collect and share data is critical to the fight against tobacco in Massachusetts. We commit to advocating for adequate funding for the program.
The work we do is strong because we do it together. Our willingness to work together as a coalition, weathering disappointments and doubt, has meant that we have had moments of clarity, insight, excitement, and victory. We commit to a climate of collaboration, thoughtfulness, respect, and understanding as we seek to expand to bring in new members to move us forward.
4. General Strategies
To achieve our vision and honor our commitments, we use the following general strategies:
- Develop and advocate for innovative, evidence-based public health policies to reduce tobacco and vape use in the Commonwealth, especially in disproportionately affected groups;
- Support local tobacco control initiatives and promote state and federal measures that will enhance these initiatives;
- Oppose statewide and federal measures that may preempt local tobacco control initiatives or weaken tobacco control standards for the Commonwealth;
- Advocate for optimal funding for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program;
- Anticipate and counter tobacco industry strategies to influence or intimidate decision-makers, promote new products, and undermine existing laws.
- Promote local and statewide public health policies that reduce the exposure to secondhand smoke and vape;
- Pursue policies and programs that prevent youth initiation to tobacco and vape products, emphasizing the engagement of young people in advocating for change;
- Expand access to FDA-approved treatment for nicotine addiction, ensure full coverage by all insurers, and facilitate promotion of these benefits to those who need them;
- Engage with scientific experts, people representing groups most affected by tobacco use, and those in local public health to broaden our understanding of tobacco control issues and improve our response;
- Foster best practices in tobacco control through thoughtful review and open discussion of new research and innovative policies and programs.