Pumpkins are everywhere and there's a chill in the air. But when it comes to our key legislative priorities, things are heating up:

  • 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. These bills had a hearing on October 18 in front of the Joint Committee on Revenue. A federal tobacco tax increase is also in play as part of the Build Back Better Act, but its fate is uncertain.
  • Closing the 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. These bills had a hearing on September 14 in front of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. There's still an opportunity to pursue this administratively, so we're working on that at the same time.

    Philip Morris is polishing its image... and the Globe is helping.

    Recently the Globe began running “sponsored content” paid for by Philip Morris International, in a clear violation of its own policy. The pieces look like newspaper articles but are written for the tobacco company. In the articles, Philip Morris executives attempt to portray their company as champions of science and enemies of misinformation.

    This is not harmless--the articles also try to undermine public health efforts, implying that tobacco laws are the result of stakeholders who are anti-science and who spread misinformation.  This flips the truth upside down.

    Please tell Linda Pizzuti Henry, the Globe's CEO, that the Globe should have no part in spreading Big Tobacco's lies!  You can email her at linda.henry@globe.com or use the link below for a pre-filled email that you can edit:

    * * * Click here to edit and send a pre-filled email! * * *

    After you send your email, please encourage your colleagues, friends, and frenemies to do the same! Forward this email or link to this web-based action alert. Want some background on this issue? Click here to see what's been going on!

    Registration is now open for TFM's Policy Forum!

    Our Annual Policy Forum will be held online at 3:00 EST on November 30, 2021. We'll examine the tobacco industry's shadowy efforts to polish its image (see Boston Globe, above...) and impact public policy in Massachusetts.

    Learn more and register now!

    Watch for an agenda in the coming week!

    Connecting the Dots: How Tobacco Industry Image-Polishing Impacts Public Policy: Tobacco Free Mass Policy Forum. Online via Zoom. November 30, 2021; 3:00-4:00 EST

    Last call for nominations...

    Nominations are still being accepted for the 2021 Blake Cady Award!  The award is Tobacco Free Mass' highest honor, awarded each year to an individual who has contributed greatly to the tobacco control movement in Massachusetts.

    Our honorees have dedication, passion, and a willingness to find a way to make the impossible possible--qualities that enabled Dr. Blake Cady to revolutionize tobacco control in Massachusetts.

    Nominations are due by Friday, November 5, 2021 and can be submitted by filling out the nomination form. Anyone, regardless of membership status, is welcome to submit a nomination.

    Blake Cady with signed petitions--archive photo

    Upcoming and Interesting

    The Massachusetts PTA will hold its 4th Health Summit online on November 4. All are welcome! Visit the PTA site for more information.

    The Smoking Cessation Leadership Center (SCLC) is offering a range of tobacco[related webinars on a wide variety of topics in its Back-to-School Recorded Webinars series. Free CEUs are available. 

    The Tobacco Online Policy Seminar (TOPS) 2021-2022 Fall/Winter series offers free access to live seminars on tobacco policy from respected researchers. View schedule and registration here.

    Job openings

    The 84 has a job posting for a Senior Program Manager.

    Tobacco inspectors are also still needed for the FDA program.

    UMass Chan Medical School’s Center for Tobacco Treatment Research and Training has an open position for a Program Administrator.

    News you can use

      FDA Frenzy

      The FDA has been in the news a LOT over the past few weeks: it won praise from public health organizations when it denied applications for 300,000 flavored e-cigarettes; but then delayed its decision on major companies with over 75% of the e-cigarette market.

      Public health groups urged the FDA to finish the job and deny the applications of all flavored e-cigarettes. The FDA had different plans, and announced that it will permit the marketing of three Vuse e-cigarette products. The agency did note that "(w)hile today’s action permits the tobacco products to be sold in the U.S., it does not mean these products are safe or 'FDA approved.' All tobacco products are harmful and addictive and those who do not use tobacco products should not start."

      A few days later, the FDA approved flavored oral tobacco products under the Verve brand, drawing instant condemnation from public health groups.

      This all points to the importance of our strong local and state laws regulating tobacco products--and the need to remain vigilant in defending them.

        Quitting for the younger set

        Get Outraged! (again!) The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is launching a campaign to educate parents of middle- and high school-aged youth about the dangers of vaping. The campaign also shares tips on talking with kids about vaping and resources to help them quit. Watch the videos at GetOutraged.org. Handouts about vaping and quit resource cards for youth are available free of charge at the Massachusetts Health Promotion Clearinghouse

        Facts. No Filters. is the corresponding vaping education campaign from MTCP that gives young people facts about the dangers of vaping, tips to help them talk to friends, and resources to quit. Learn more at mass.gov/vaping and @GetTheVapeFacts on Instagram. Free printed handouts are available if you want to promote it IRL!

        Massachusetts offers free vaping and nicotine treatment services to youth and young adults through its My Life, My Quit campaign at the Massachusetts Quitline. Talk, text, or online chat is available 24/7. 

        • Youth 12-17 years old: Youth-specific coaching and counseling. Talk, text. or online chat. To start, text Start My Quit to 36072 or enroll online at mylifemyquit.com. Clinicians can refer patients using a QuitWorks fax form.
        • Young adults 18-24 years old: Includes features of the general program for 1-800-QUIT-NOW as well as live text coaching. Opt in for automated text messages tailored by age, tobacco type, and readiness to change. Text START to 36072, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW, or visit mylifemyquit.com.
        • Youth 13 to 24 years old: THIS IS QUITTING MA is a confidential texting program available to MA youth, powered by Truth in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Text VapeFreeMass to 88709.

          Upcoming Tobacco Free Mass Meetings

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

          December 2 – 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.

          December 2 – 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.

          Download TFM's Meeting Calendar for 2021

          The next meeting of the Massachusetts Collaborative for Tobacco Recovery is on November 18 from 1:00-2:30, on Zoom. For more information on this group or to be added to their mailing list, please contact Annegret (annegretklaua@healthrecovery.org) or Kimberley (kimberley.warsett@state.ma.us).

          Spring into Fall!

          Here's hoping every day is a bones day for you!


          Gwendolyn StewartExecutive Director

          Tobacco Free Mass

          PO Box 380944

          Cambridge, MA  02238

          m: (617) 500-3449

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