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 is on the move! The bill, H4486 (formerly H4479) was passed by the House on May 9 and is now in Senate Ways and Means! The margin of victory was huge: 147-4 on a roll call vote. Only one amendment passed: the one to create a vaping task force (#5). Thanks to everyone who contacted their Representatives! The Senate now has the bill, and our advocates are educating new Senators about it. We expect it will take a back burner to the budget (see below!). We anticipate the Senate taking it up after the budget, in the last week in May or the first week of June. will send out information as soon as the Senate is ready to focus on the bill! Some history: the bill was reported out of the Joint Committee on Public Health on January 12, 2018 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: The next step in the budget process is Conference Committee; after the Senate finishes its budget, three Reps and three Senators will meet to negotiate the differences in the two budgets. As it stands now, the House has increased MTCP’s line by $500,000 and the Senate has cut it by $360,000. So there’s some negotiating to do. As soon as conference committee members are appointed, sometime in late May or early June, we will update this page with a link to an action alert! Some history: On May 23, Senator Jason Lewis withdrew the amendment he had filed to increase funding for MTCP in the Senate budget for tactical reasons. MTCP funding remains a top priority for him and we have his support. On May 10, the Senate Ways and Means Committee released its budget, which repeated the 10% cut the Governor had proposed for MTCP. Senator Jason Lewis filed an amendment (#515) to restore MTCP’s funding to its level of a decade ago, $8.5 million. MTCP’s line in the budget is 4590-0300. So far in the process, House Ways and Means had level-funded MTCP’s budget to the FY 2018 level of $3,718,862, and after that, the full House approved a $500,000 increase over level funding. MTCP needs an increase in funding urgently. As the state’s tobacco control program, MTCP 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.
- 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.