We're rounding out May with the Senate's increase to tobacco control funding! With that legislative victory, increased vaccination levels, and the summerlike weather, a feeling is stirring... could it be optimism? 

  • Budget for the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program (MTCP): The Senate voted to accept Senator John Keenan's amendment, increasing the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program's budget by $500,000 over the current fiscal year! Because the House and Senate now propose the same funding of $5,618,793 in MTCP's budget line (4590-0300), the line item is not subject to conference committee changes, so it stands! The only potential issue is the governor vetoing the line.  If that happens, you will definitely hear about it from us... with action steps to push for an override.

You may recall that the governor proposed cutting MTCP by $500,000 in his budget. The House then proposed increasing MTCP by $500,000.  The Senate Ways and Means Committee had proposed the same $500,000 cut as the Governor, but then Sen. Keenan filed an amendment proposing funding at the House's level, and it passed!

  • Cigarette and Cigar Tax: 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. Increases in tobacco prices through taxes have been shown to decrease tobacco use, especially among young people.
  • Closing MassHealth cessation benefit loophole: 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.


    Dr. Monica Bharel, who has served as Massachusetts' Commissioner of Public Health for the last six years, is leaving her position. Throughout her tenure, Commissioner Bharel has been an advocate for tobacco control, spurred on by her deep understanding of the racial and health inequities caused by tobacco.

    Dr. Carole Allen, a proud past Chair of Tobacco Free Mass, is now the new President of the Massachusetts Medical Society! We look forward to working with her on her priority issues, including racial equity and access to quality healthcare.

    Next full coalition meeting is Thursday, June 3!

    The next quarterly full coalition meeting is on Thursday, June 3--not the day after.  Thank you to everyone who pointed out the error I made in past newsletters!

    Keep an eye on your inbox--you'll receive an agenda on Tuesday for the meeting, which is on Thursday, June 3.  Did I mention that?

    TFM membership dues reminders

    Membership dues reminders went out in early May.  If your organization did not receive a reminder and invoice, please contact Gwen StewartTobacco Free Mass receives the vast majority of its support through membership dues; the rest comes from event sponsorships, occasional small grants, and donations. Your contribution enables us to be independent, outspoken advocates for tobacco cessation and prevention.

    We are using a new membership database system, so if you received any notices from us that were confusing or had funky formatting, please also let us know so that we can make fixes for the future!

    News you can use

    • The Office of Human Rights at the Federal Department of Health and Human Services released a new interpretation of civil rights law this month, ensuring that LGBTQ+ people who face discrimination in covered health care settings can file a complaint and be assured that it will be investigated and resolved. This article in Health Affairs explains what's going on--and what still needs to happen.

    Upcoming Tobacco Free Mass Meetings

    Can't wait to see you at our upcoming meetings! Remember, we'll meet remotely for the foreseeable future.

    June 3 – Full Coalition meeting from 10:00 AM to 11:30 PM on Zoom. To attend the meeting, you must register, which you can do with this link.

    June 3 – Advocacy Committee meeting immediately following the Full Coalition meeting from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM on Zoom. To attend the meeting, you must register, which you can do with this link.

    July 22 – 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.

    Download TFM's Meeting Calendar for 2021

    It's finally (almost) here!

    It's (almost) summer at last! Enjoy it and do something that helps you flourish, whether that's hanging out, fooling bears, or something else!  See you at our quarterly meeting on, yes, Thursday, June 3.


    Gwendolyn Stewart

    Executive Director

    m: (617) 500.3449


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