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!