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.
Status of Priority Legislation
- An Act Modernizing Tobacco Control passed the Senate on November 20 with a vote of 32-6! The bill passed the House on November 13 with a vote of 127-31. The House and Senate are currently reconciling their two versions. Once that’s done, they will send it to the Governor’s desk. We are so close!
- CALL THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE RIGHT NOW to say you want him to sign the bill immediately! His number is (617) 725-4005.
- This priority bill bans the sale of all flavored tobacco products, adds a 75% excise tax for e-cigarettes and vape products, includes cessation coverage, and more! Amendments that would exempt menthol tobacco products were rejected or withdrawn, so the bill remains strong.
Here’s what the bill does:
- Bans the sale of ALL flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes and chewing tobacco.
- Adds an excise tax of 75% of wholesale on e-cigarettes, bringing parity with cigarettes in the state. The tax applies to devices as well.
- Requires private insurers, the Group Insurance Commission, and MassHealth to provide coverage for tobacco use cessation counseling and all generic FDA approved tobacco cessation products with at least one product available with no out of pocket costs.
- Restricts the sale of vapes/e-cigarettes with nicotine content greater than 35 mg per ml to adult only retail tobacco stores and smoking bars.
- Increases the retailer fine for sales to minors from $100, $200 and $300 for first, second and third violations respectively to $1,000, $2,000 and $5,000.
- Adds a penalty for retailers who have their vape/e-cigarette or tobacco license suspended or revoked for selling untaxed products requiring the state lottery director to suspend their license to sell lottery tickets or shares issued to the retailer.
- Effective date for flavored vape/e-cigarette ban, increased retailer fines for sales to minors and insurance mandates is immediately upon passage.
- Effective date for flavored tobacco ban is June 1, 2020
Please call your state Senator and thank them for passing this strong tobacco prevention legislation! Find your legislators’ contact information at Find My Legislator.
- Raising the cigarette tax and instituting an excise tax on e-cigarettes and vape products. Senator Harriette Chandler and Representative Marjorie Decker filed An Act protecting youth from nicotine addiction (Senate Bill 1606 and House Bill 2436, respectively). This bill would add an excise tax of 75% of wholesale to e-cigarettes, increasing their prices and making them harder for young people to afford. This e-cigarette piece of the legislation is included in the Act to Modernize Tobacco Control (described above). However, this legislation would also increase the tax on cigarettes by $1.00, bringing it to a more reasonable $4.51, and increase the tax on cigars from 40% of wholesale to 80% of wholesale. Increasing the price of cigars and cigarettes is one of the most effective ways to help smokers quit and prevent kids from starting. History and evidence show that this will reduce the smoking rate, saving some of the more than $4 billion in health care costs annually attributed to tobacco use in Massachusetts. Referred to the Joint Committee on Revenue.
- Close the loopholes in the MassHealth tobacco cessation benefit. Senator Jason Lewis and Representative Christine Barber have filed An Act to provide Medicaid coverage for tobacco cessation (Senate Bill 704 and House Bill 1129, respectively). This bill seeks to expand access to the program by allowing trained and approved dentists and behavioral health practitioners to provide cessation counseling to patients on MassHealth as recommended by the CDC. The MassHealth smoking cessation benefit was a huge success when it was introduced in Fiscal Year 2007, but certain providers, including dentists and behavioral health providers, were not included. Closing the loophole would enable certified professionals in these fields to counsel, and bill for, tobacco cessation for their MassHealth patients. Referred to the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. TFM testified at the May 14 hearing, and several coalition members spoke or sent written testimony.
- Budget for the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program: The conference committee accepted the House’s proposal of a $400,000 increase to MTCP funding, a total of $4,617,730. The Governor did not veto MTCP’s line, so the program is funded at $4,617,730 for FY 2020. For perspective on what this budget amount means, take a look at the charts and graphs showing historical funding levels for the program, which are available on MassBudget.org.
Current Massachusetts laws specific to tobacco can be found on Mass.gov.