With TFM’s priority legislation on the move and MTCP’s budget headed for conference, June will not be boring! We’ll have a chance to hear more at our June 7 full coalition meeting.
Status of Tobacco Legislation
- The Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program (MTCP) budget is headed for conference committee. The House funded the program at a $500,000 increase over the current fiscal year, but the Senate cut it by 10% from the current fiscal year (a $360,000 decrease). The two sides will battle it out in conference. Once the six-member conference committee members have been finalized, we’ll let you know and we’ll send out an alert with action steps. This is a critical moment—if the House’s version makes it through, it would be the first increase in over a decade. If the Senate prevails and there’s a cut, MTCP will need to eliminate key programming. Realistically, level funding from the current fiscal year is not enough to sustain the program because of the added work from Juul and other new tobacco products. Stay tuned! In the meantime, 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. Senate Ways and Means cut the program’s budget by 10% (same as the Governor’s proposal), and Senator Jason Lewis filed an amendment to increase the budget; over a dozen of his colleagues signed on. However, after he learned the amendment wouldn’t pass, he withdrew the amendment rather than allowing it to appear as a “no” on the record. MTCP funding remains a top priority for him, and he will continue to fight for it. The budget now moves to conference, the second-to-last step before it hits the Governor’s desk. 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.
- Omnibus bill is resting comfortably in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The House passed Tobacco Free Mass’ priority legislation overwhelmingly, with a 146-4 vote! Thank you for your calls and emails! The next step is the Senate; the bill is currently in Senate Ways and Means. Now that the Senate budget debates are over, we expect it to move out of committee and to the full Senate for consideration in the next few weeks. We will let you know the very instant anything happens—you’ll receive an action alert from us. The bill now has a new number: H.4486. Our advocates have been working with Senate Ways and Means, Senators and staff about the legislation. Here’s a little history: 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 spring in the House Ways and Means Committee before being voted out favorably and passing the House on May 9. 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. We will continue to watch the bill closely and will let you know when action is needed.
- I’m hoping that you got to read the Globe’s editorial urging the passage TFM’s priority legislation! It’s worth also reading the counterpoint from the Herald. It does a great job of articulating the other side’s point of view.
- Grab a cup of coffee and settle in with the New Yorker’s article on Juul. The author is at least partially bought into the Juul hype, parroting some of their cringeworthy views without flinching. It’s a perspective that helps explain the rapid rise in Juul use.
- An interesting MMWR article looked at tobacco cessation offerings in mental health and addiction treatment facilities. This relates to discussions we’ve had about MassHealth at past coalition meetings. There’s been some progress, but there’s still work to be done: In 2016, among mental health facilities, 49% screened patients for tobacco use, 38% offered tobacco cessation counseling, and 49% had smoke-free campuses; corresponding estimates for substance abuse facilities were 64%, 47%, and 35%, respectively. Approximately one in four behavioral health treatment facilities offered nicotine replacement therapy; one in five offered non-nicotine cessation medications.
- Financial incentives through workplace wellness programs can help people quit smoking, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study was sponsored by a workplace wellness company and an e-cigarette company provided its products for free. It’s interesting that the e-cigarettes weren’t as popular a reward as some of the other options.
- Productive Procrastination Alert: Ad Age’s article on the FDA’s warning to e-cigarette companies has a fun little slideshow showing packaging of some of their flavored products. Take a look!
Kick Butts Day/TFM Legislative Visits
- The Kick Butts Day celebration at the State House was energizing and fun—you can get the sense of it from the mini-tweetstorm that took place. Kick Butts Day took place on May 2 this year, and Tobacco Free Mass members joined about 200 young people in visiting legislators. The State House News Service used the event to highlight TFM’s priority legislation, and the story was republished in papers across the Commonwealth. Thanks to all TFM members who participated!
TFM Working Groups
- TFM’s E-Cigarette Working Group met on May 8. The group was updated on what came out of the exploratory meeting on policy options, and they discussed communications needs and opportunities. An overview of MTCP’s new vaping campaign was discussed. The next meeting is scheduled for June 12 from 10:00-11:30 at the Massachusetts Medical Society. At the meeting, time will be dedicated to making a plan to help increase the reach of MTCP’s parent-focused vaping campaign and its planned youth-focused one. ***If you would like to be a member of TFM’s E-Cigarette Working Group but are not on the list, please email me and I will put you in touch with Jonina Gorenstein and Annegret Klaua, who are heading up the working group! ***
- TFM’s Menthol Working Group held an exploratory meeting and is preparing for its next meeting. 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.
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’ve started sending out dues notices electronically. If you haven’t already received a notice for your organization, don’t panic! It should be in your email inbox by mid-June. If you need your dues notice immediately, 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!
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. 166 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. 178 cities and towns have a MLSA of 21 and two have a MLSA of 19. This means that 74% 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. 135 cities and towns have enacted this policy, covering 58% 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.” 118 cities and towns have enacted this policy, covering 53% of the state’s population.
Information about local policies can be found on the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program’s website, MakeSmokingHistory.org.
Upcoming Tobacco Free Mass Meetings
- 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. MTCP is producing an ad campaign on vaping; the first wave will target parents/concerned adults and the second wave, scheduled for September, will target youth. MTCP will present the campaign during the full coalition meeting on June 7. This will give us a chance to talk a bit about the lessons learned and best practices from our success in reducing youth cigarette smoking and what perspective that can give us on how we approach youth use of electronic nicotine devices.
- June 12 – E-cigarette working group from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM at the Massachusetts Medical Society in Waltham.
- July 26 – Advocacy Committee meeting from 10:00 to 11:30 at The Strategy Group’s offices at 40 Court Street, 11th Floor, Boston.
- August 23 – Advocacy Committee meeting from 10:00 to 11:30 at The Strategy Group’s offices at 40 Court Street, 11th Floor, Boston.
- 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.
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If you see something interesting you think might work in the May edition of our Monthly Update, please send it my way.