Happy Holidays! And stay tuned for more budget news...

The FY 2021 Massachusetts budget is not finished, and tobacco funding is still in play.  Governor Baker vetoed a $500,000 increase to the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation Program (MTCP) that had been approved by the Conference Committee. The Legislature is now considering which of the Governor's vetoes to override. We are advocating for them to restore the increase in MTCP's funding.  They could make a decision in the next several days.

MTCP is responding to increased demands because of COVID-19 and the passage of the flavored tobacco law. The additional funding would give the program a budget of $5,118,155 in line 4590-0300, which is a crucial $500,000 increase over the past fiscal year.

Elsewhere in the state budget, there's good news!  Effective tobacco control in Massachusetts depends upon a strong local public health system. We're happy to report that the FY 2021 budget includes new funding for local public health: $1.7 million for SAPHE and $10 million for local boards of health! 

We have a new Chair and Vice Chair!

Dr. Dennis Dimitri is our new Chair starting on January 1. Dr. Dimitri brought extensive leadership experience with him to his previous role of Vice Chair; a practicing physician, he is the past President of the Massachusetts Medical Society and of the Massachusetts Academy of Family Physicians. We look forward to working with him in his new role!

Dr. Ellana Stinson is our new Vice Chair. She is an emergency room physician and the President of the New England Medical Association.  She earned her Master's in Public Health in health policy and management, focusing on access to care and health equity.  We are delighted to have her with us!

We'd like to thank our outgoing Chair, Dr. Lauren Smith, who led us through major legislative victories and set us on a great path forward.

News you can use

  • More adolescents and young adults in the US reported quitting or reducing use of e-cigarettes during the pandemic than reported increasing use or switching to other products. Increases in teenage vaping from 2017 to 2019 halted in 2020 in the US, according to an article in JAMA Pediatrics, though the rates remain high at around 22%. Significant declines in use of the JUUL brand were countered by significant increases in use of other vaping brands.
  • To capitalize on the youth vaping slowdown, an opinion piece in JAMA Network Open suggests using health messaging, point-of-sale policies, and addiction services.  The Truth Initiative and Kaiser Permanente, in collaboration with the American Heart Association, are working through the (remote) schools to raise young people's awareness by launching Vaping: Know the truth, an online, school-based youth vaping prevention curriculum.
  • The CDC released a survey showing that even though overall tobacco use among middle and high school students in the US has declined from 2019-2020, their use of cigarettes stayed the same.  But all is not lost; a recent study suggests that despite an increase in e-cigarette use among adolescents in the US between 2011 and 2019, their use of cigarette and smokeless tobacco use has decreased more rapidly during the same period compared with the earlier year.
  • The Town of Brookline passed a first-in-the-nation regulation that would prohibit the sale of tobacco to anyone born after January 1, 2000; the regulation now goes to the state Attorney General's office for review.

    Upcoming Opportunities

    Tobacco Product Use and COVID-19: An Overview of the Science and Public Health Implications -- January 28, 2021 at 2:00 pm EST.  In this hourlong, free webinar, the CDC's Brian King will discuss tobacco product use and COVID-19, and will make recommendations about evidence-based cessation strategies. Registration is required; register here.

    Upcoming Tobacco Free Mass Meetings

    The calendar of 2021 Tobacco Free Mass meetings is here! I've included Zoom links in the calendar list. Remember, we'll meet remotely at least through the end of June 2021.

    January 21 – Advocacy Committee meeting from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM on Zoom. To attend the meeting, you must register, which you can do with this link.

    March 4 – Full Coalition meeting from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM on Zoom. To attend the meeting, you must register, which you can do with this link.

    March 4 – Advocacy Committee meeting immediately following the Full Coalition meeting, from 12:15 PM to 1:30 PM on Zoom. To attend the meeting, you must register, which you can do with this link.

    Download TFM Meeting Calendar for 2021

    Job Opening

    The Tobacco-Free Community Partnership Program for the Worcester area is hiring!  Tina Grosowsky has retired and her old position is open. Apply through the UMass Medical School system.

    It's better to give...

    As you put together your year-end plan to give to the organizations you care about most, please consider supporting Tobacco Free Mass. We are a small organization with a large impact, and we depend on your support.

    Give Now!

    Happy Holidays!

    Here's hoping we've learned and grown in 2020... and that we can use our newfound wisdom to build a better future. Maybe we'll even adapt to our new way of being.

    Enjoy the holidays! Best wishes for a fun and joyful 2021.


    Tobacco Free Mass' offices will be closed from December 24 through January 3.

    Gwendolyn Stewart

    Tobacco Coalition Director

    m: (617) 500.3449


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