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: There are a few differences between the House and Senate bills that are being worked out, but we are hopeful that the bill will be on the Governor’s desk sometime in July. We’ll let you know as it progresses—there may be a need for some calls and emails to keep the process moving!The Senate passed the youth tobacco prevention legislation at the end of June… by a margin of 33-3! This comes just weeks after the House passed the measure overwhelmingly, with a 146-4 vote.If you haven’t already, take a moment to email or call your Senator to thank them for their support. Some history: the House version of the bill, H4486 (formerly H4479), was passed by the House on May 9 with a huge margin of victory: 147-4 on a roll call vote. Only one amendment passed: the one to create a vaping task force (#5). Before that, 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.
- Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention program (MTCP) budget: On July 18, the House and Senate gave MTCP a $500,000 increase in the compromise budget! This is the highest level MTCP has been funded at since 2010 and reverses a years-long decline in funding. There’s one last hurdle: the Governor has ten days to sign the budget, and he could potentially veto MTCP’s line, replacing it with the cut he had proposed. Some history: The Conference Committee met to negotiate the differences in the House and Senate; the House had increased MTCP’s line by $500,000 and the Senate had cut it by $360,000. Previously, the Senate Ways and Means Committee released its budget, which repeated the 10% cut the Governor had proposed for MTCP. Senator Jason Lewis had 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. 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. There is a need for increased funding 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, 2017, 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.