Tobacco Free Mass supports a comprehensive approach aimed at protecting young people from all tobacco and nicotine products, helping smokers quit, and preventing exposure to secondhand smoke. Regular and significant tax increases, smoke-free workplace laws, and a well-funded evidence-based tobacco control program are the critical components to achieving these goals.
Other policy strategies build on these core components by directly attacking strategies tobacco companies use to target youth.
Tobacco Free Mass (TFM) is currently focused on:
- Omnibus Tobacco Bill: Tobacco Free Mass’ priority legislation was reported out of the Joint Committee on Public Health on January 12, 2018 with a new bill number: HB4109, and was reported out of the Joint Committee on Health Care Finance on February 7, 2018. It is now in House Ways and Means. The legislation includes increasing the sales age for tobacco from 18 to 21, adding e-cigarettes to the smoke free workplace law, and prohibiting the sale of tobacco in pharmacies. After a hearing was held in May 2017, TFM advocates have been working tirelessly to move this bill, talking to legislators and aides and distributing letters and information to every legislator three times a week. Young people from across the Commonwealth spoke out in support of the legislation at a press event at the State House on October 25, 2017. We are happy that the legislation has been moving, and we will continue to work to help move it forward.
- Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention program (MTCP) budget: Governor Baker’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposes funding the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program (MTCP) at $3,358,872, slashing it by $359,990. This is a 10% cut and would reduce MTCP’s budget to the second lowest level since 1992, when it was created by Massachusetts voters through their approval of a 25 cent tobacco tax. MTCP is the state’s tobacco control program and is critical to the fight against tobacco in Massachusetts. It implements and enforces laws, funds local boards of health and community organizations to do enforcement and education, runs the state’s quitline, produces ads and materials educating about tobacco and nicotine, and provides surveillance and evaluation for tobacco issues, including the rise in e-cigarette use among young people. This cut is ill-informed and comes at a time when schools are turning to MTCP for help handling Juul and other new tobacco product use. Please contact your legislators and spread the word! Here’s an action alert with the details.
- Tobacco Tax Increase: On July 18th, the Joint Committee on Revenue held a public hearing on HB 3314, a bill that would increase the excise tax on cigarettes by $1.00 to $4.51 and the tax on cigars from 40% of wholesale to 80% of wholesale.
- Local Tobacco Policies: Cities and towns across Massachusetts have been passing tobacco policies that fight the tobacco industry’s influence on the local level. Many cities and towns have banned the sale of tobacco in pharmacies, restricted the sale of flavored tobacco to adult-only retailers, raised the age of tobacco sale to 21, and prohibited the use of e-cigarettes wherever the Smoke-Free Workplace Law applies. Information about local policies can be found on MTCP’s website, MakeSmokingHistory.org.
As the need arises for specific action to help advance this legislation, we will post it here. In the meantime, let your Massachusetts Legislators know you support these important pieces of legislation!
Current Massachusetts laws specific to tobacco can be found on Mass.gov.