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: A hearing was held in May 2017 on TFM priority legislation that 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. The legislation is HB2864/SB1218. When the Legislature left for recess at the end of November, the legislation had still not yet moved out of the Joint Committee on Public Health. We have been doing a lot of work to move this bill; TFM advocates have been distributing letters and information to every legislator three times a week, and 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. When the session resumes in January, our advocates will resume their high-intensity effort.
- 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.
- Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention program (MTCP) budget: The House and Senate passed their compromise budget on July 7, funding the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention program at $3,718,862 for the new fiscal year, down from $3,866,096 in Fiscal Year 2017. The governor did not veto this when he signed the budget on July 17, so it stands for the FY 2018 budget, which started on July 1. The Illegal Tobacco Task Force was funded at $897,499 by the House and Senate, but the governor vetoed it to the level in his House 1 budget: $594,999.
- 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.