For a short month, February had a lot going on!

February 19 was the bill filing deadline, and friends and foes of tobacco control filed several key pieces of tobacco legislation.  The good list included taxes and closing the loophole for MassHealth tobacco cessation coverage.

Sen. Hariette Chandler and Rep. Marjorie Decker filed bills that would increase the cigarette tax by $1.00 and increase the cigar tax from 40% to 80% of wholesale.  Sen. Jason Lewis and Rep. Christine Barber filed bills that would expand access to tobacco cessation counseling by allowing new categories of professionals to bill MassHealth for tobacco cessation, including dentists, behavioral and mental health counselors, and certified tobacco use cessation counselors.

There are a few bad bills we're watching, including a couple that would overturn the menthol provision of the new tobacco law and one that would penalize possession of tobacco products.

When Governor Baker released his proposed Fiscal Year 2022 budget in late January, it included a $500,000 cut to the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program (MTCP)The Governor's line for MTCP contained only $4,618,792--roughly the level of the FY 2020 budget. This is only the very beginning of a long budget process. The next step is for the House Ways and Means Committee to release its version of the budget, which is expected in April.

Watch your email inbox next week for an action alert on all of these issues to act on and share!

News you can use

  • The amount of cigarettes current or past smokers have smoked might impact the severity of their COVID-19 symptoms, according to a new study in JAMA.
  • A meta-study reinforces the conclusion that smoking, even current smoking or former smoking, significantly increases the risk of COVID-19 severity and death.

    Kick Butts Day

    Kick Butts Day is back… and it's virtual again this year!  The young people have invited us to join in the celebration from 4:00-4:30 on March 31!

    Please don't log in earlier than 4:00; there will be a training during that time that we don't want to Zoom-bomb! 

    Register for Kick Butts Day here!

    Local Action

    The Sample Regulation Restricting the Sale of Tobacco and Vape Products has been updated for 2021!  This is the guidance document for cities and towns looking to improve their tobacco control policies, and it lends insight into what can be done at the municipal level.  If your city or town is interested in updating its tobacco sales regulations, free technical assistance is available.  Please contact DJ Wilson for more information.

    Upcoming Tobacco Free Mass Meetings

    Can't wait to see you at our quarterly full coalition meeting next week! Remember, we'll meet remotely at least through the end of June 2021.

    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.

    April 15 – Advocacy Committee meeting from 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM on Zoom. To attend the meeting, you must register, which you can do with this link. ***Note shift to earlier time!***

    Download TFM Meeting Calendar for 2021

    David is finished with his smoking.

    Still here?  Then you've just earned the right to read David Sedaris' history of not smoking, smoking, and not smoking.


    Gwendolyn Stewart

    Executive Director

    m: (617) 500.3449


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