April showers bring May…legislative progress? We’ll keep the pressure on and see!
Status of Tobacco Legislation
- The House funded the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program (MTCP) at an increase of $500,000! If this holds through the Senate, it would be the first increase in over a decade! Here’s a recap of what’s happened so far: The governor’s proposed a 10% cut to the program. House Ways and Means proposed level funding to the current fiscal year, which $3,718,872. Rep. Danielle Gregoire filed an amendment, and the House gave a $500K increase to put the budget at $4,218,872. . 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. Thanks to everyone who made calls and encouraged others to do so. It’s working! We are now gearing up for the Senate. Stay tuned!
- Omnibus bill is resting comfortably in the House Ways and Means Committee. There’s been no change on Tobacco Free Mass’ priority legislation since last month, though we have been assured (and seen evidence) that the legislation is going to move soon. Our advocates continue to drop information at least twice a week and several partner organizations have been sending out information on social media. The bill was reported out of the Joint Committee on Public Health in January, moved to the Joint Committee on Health Care Finance, and spent the month of February in the House Ways and Means Committee with a new bill number: HB4109. 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. The bill will be the featured piece of legislation for TFM members during Kick Butts Day on May 2 (see Upcoming Events, below!). The Pediatric Residents will feature the legislation during their lobby day the following day! We will continue to watch the bill closely and will let you know when action is needed.
- TFM’s E-Cigarette Working Group had its inaugural meeting in March. The next meeting is scheduled for May 8 from 10:00-11:30 at the Massachusetts Medical Society. Group co-chairs Annegret Klaua and Jonina Gorenstein had an exploratory meeting on policy options and will bring what they learned to the group at the next Working Group meeting. The group will also continue to discuss how to educate specific groups and the general public. ***If you would like to be a member of TFM’s E-Cigarette Working Group but did not attend the first meeting, please email me and I will put you on the working group’s email list! ***
- TFM’s Menthol Working Group held an exploratory meeting and will kick into action in the late spring or early summer. I will send out an announcement when the group’s first full meeting is set. In the meantime, the group is looking for any policy statements on menthol that organizations might have. If your organization has taken a stand on menthol, please contact Chris Banthin, who’s heading up the TFM Menthol Working Group.
- The New York Times had an interesting piece on Juul in the school setting, including on nicotine addiction among teenagers and the disingenuous message from Juul that they don’t want youth to use their product. It’s interesting, too in the context of an article in the Washington Post reports that 63% of young people don’t know that Juul contains nicotine. That’s essentially what the young people who spoke at our full coalition meeting said!
- Smithsonian’s online magazine has a fascinating look at how e-cigarette companies are using marketing practices cigarette companies aren’t allowed to use anymore. Great read—perfect productive procrastination!
- The FDA is asking Juul for information on its marketing and ingredients as part of a probe of e-cigarette companies’ marketing to youth. Articles on the FDA’s action appeared in the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. The action came several days after several national groups asked the FDA to take action on Juul.
- And though it might be a little bit like boasting, we’re very proud that TFM Chair Dr. Lynda Young received the Massachusetts Medical Society’s 2018 Award for Distinguished Service to the organization! She’s done a ton for TFM, and it’s great to see her honored in this way.
Good things are happening at TFM!
Tobacco Free Mass’ Executive Committee has been looking at how to make our coalition more sustainable, engaging, and member-friendly. Part of this is looking at how we raise the funds that keep us going. Tobacco Free Mass is an 100% independently-funded organization. This means that we receive no government grants—all the funds that allow Tobacco Free Mass to continue its work come from our members, from small grants, and from sponsors of our annual event. We’ve decided to do three things to improve our sustainability:
- Create a formal dues structure that reflects types of organizations and assigns dues accordingly;
- Pursue small grants that will support the central work of Tobacco Free Mass; and
- Reformat our annual fundraising event so that it provides information that is valuable to our members and guests while still allowing sponsorship opportunities for organizations who prefer to support Tobacco Free Mass in that way.
Under the new dues structure, dues-paying member organizations receive voting rights and the ability to serve on TFM’s committees, free ticket(s) to the annual event, and their name listed as a member organization on our website and at our annual event. I’ll be sending out dues notices in the next couple of weeks. If you have any questions about your dues or need any changes to them, please let me know!
Our policy forum will be held in September, in lieu of our quarterly full coalition meeting. We’ll still have a roundup of the year’s events and we’ll still honor an exemplary tobacco control advocate with the Blake Cady Award. The event will still be held at the Massachusetts Medical Society. But the bulk of the time will feature a discussion with experts on policy impacting youth e-cigarette use, drawing often on experiences fighting youth cigarette use. So make sure that the morning of September 6 is marked on your calendar, and stay tuned for details in May!
- May 2 – The Kick Butts Day celebration at the State House—TFM legislative visits! Please join us! Tobacco Free Mass members will join young people on their visits to legislators and we’ll also make some visits to legislators on our own. If you would like to participate in visits but haven’t yet contacted us about it, please email me this very second! We’d love to have you, but we need time to schedule you in. In Massachusetts, Kick Butts Day is celebrated at the State House by about 200 members of The 84 Youth Movement from across the Commonwealth. Even if you can only come up to the State House for a while, please do—the full day starts at 10:00 and the speaking program (featuring youth speakers) runs from 1:15 to about 2:30.
- May 22 – The Massachusetts Health Council presents “Our Kids and Drugs of Misuse: Nicotine, Marijuana & Opioids,” an event aimed at school personnel that will include a discussion on e-cigarettes. The event will take place from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm at Bentley University. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased on the registration page on the Massachusetts Health Council’s website.
Local Tobacco Policies
Cities and towns across Massachusetts have been passing tobacco policies that fight the tobacco industry’s influence in communities and pave the way for statewide policy. Here is an up-to-the-minute update for the three of the tobacco regulations being passed by the 351 municipalities in Massachusetts. These are the three main components of the omnibus (aka the Tobacco 21 bill), so they are clearly popular measures!
- No tobacco product sales in health care institutions, including pharmacies. Bans tobacco sales in locations where health care services are provided, including doctor/dentist offices, hospitals, clinics, eye care providers and pharmacies. This includes supermarkets and big box stores that provide health care services. 165 cities and towns have enacted this policy. Over 69% of these also include e-cigarettes in the sales ban.
- Raise the MLSA (Minimum Legal Sales Age) from 18 to 21. The Minimum Legal Sales Age for tobacco sales in Massachusetts is 18. This policy raises the minimum age. More recent local policies extend the MLSA to nicotine delivery products such as e-cigarettes. 175 cities and towns have a MLSA of 21 and two have a MLSA of 19. This means that 73% of Massachusetts’ population lives in a municipality where the MLSA is 21!
- Prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in smoke-free locations. This policy bans the use of e-cigarettes wherever smoking is prohibited, through the Commonwealth’s Smoke-Free Law or a local regulation. 131 cities and towns have enacted this policy, covering 56% of the state’s population.
- And though it’s not part of the omnibus bill, this local regulation does impact the sale of e-cigarettes, which are usually flavored: Restrict the sale of flavored tobacco to adult-only establishments. This policy prohibits the sale of all flavored tobacco products and flavored e-cigarettes, except for in qualified retail tobacco stores and “smoking bars.” With the passage of this policy in Worcester last week, 114 cities and towns have enacted this policy, covering 52% of the state’s population—which has happened in less than five years! Congratulations to the local programs, MTCP staff, and technical assistants (including DJ Wilson and Cheryl Sbarra) who made this happen so quickly!
Information about local policies can be found on the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program’s website, MakeSmokingHistory.org.
Upcoming Tobacco Free Mass Meetings
- May 8 – E-cigarette Working Group meeting from 10:00 to 11:30 at the Massachusetts Medical Society in Waltham.
- May 24 – 10:00 to 11:30 at The Strategy Group’s offices at 40 Court Street, 11th Floor, Boston.
- June 7 – Full Coalition meeting from 10:00 AM to Noon; Advocacy Committee from 12:15 PM to 1:15 PM at ACS in Framingham.
- September 6 – Policy Forum from 9:30 to Noon at the Massachusetts Medical Society in Waltham (this is in lieu of the September quarterly meeting).
- See the full calendar on our website, at tobaccofreema.org.
Feel like procrastinating?
Make it productive by following us on social media:
If you see something interesting you think might work in the May edition of our Monthly Update, please send it my way.