Happy Holidays!  As we wrap up the old year, here's a look at where we stand and what's going on...

  • 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..
  • 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.
  • Fighting bad bills: Several bills that would repeal or weaken Massachusetts' strong state and local laws had hearings recently. Several bills were filed this session that would exempt products like heated cigarettes from the new law banning the sale of flavored tobacco products--or repeal the menthol provision of the law altogether. Those bills were heard before the Joint Committee on Public Health on November 3, 2021. Tobacco Free Mass and several members testified and also submitted written testimony. A bill that would exempt hookah from the flavor provision was heard a week later; TFM and members submitted written testimony. We'll let you know if any of these bills advance.

    Recording of TFM's Policy Forum is now available!

    Our Annual Policy Forum was held online on November 30, 2021. Connecting the Dots: How tobacco industry image-polishing impacts public policy.  A recording is available for online viewing here:

    Click here to view the recording.

    If you stick around till the end of the program, you can also watch as Sarah McColgan receives the Blake Cady Award, TFM's highest honor... presented by Dr. Blake Cady himself!

    A big thank you to our amazing speakers and to everyone who attended.  Hearing about this issue from different vantage points underscores the reality that the tobacco industry is still active in Massachusetts, despite all of our progress. But we can--and will--continue to fight it!

    Welcome, new members!

    We are happy to welcome two new member organizations, MORE Advertising and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Welcome to Tobacco Free Mass!

    News you can use

      Upcoming Tobacco Free Mass Meetings

      Our highly-anticipated 2022 meeting calendar is out! As you'd suspect, we'll meet remotely for the foreseeable future.

      January 13 Advocacy Committee meeting from 9:30 AM to 10:30 PM on Zoom. To attend the meeting, you must register, which you can do with this link.

      March 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.

      March 3 Advocacy Committee meeting immediately following the Full Coalition meeting from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM on Zoom. To attend the meeting, you must register, which you can do with this link.

      Download TFM's 2022 meeting calendar
      View the meeting calendar on the website

      YOU can shape the future of Tobacco Free Mass!

      As I depart from my role of Tobacco Free Mass' Executive Director, the TFM Executive Committee has met to discuss plans for the direction of our coalition in the future.  The group is forming a transition committee that will design an Executive Director position that can best implement those plans.  Our chair, Dr. Dennis Dimitri, invites anyone interested in participating in this transition conversation to contact him as soon as possible.  We anticipate having the new position posted in January 2022.

      In the meantime, members of the Executive Committee have arranged to keep core functions of the day-to-day management of the coalition running.  If you need to contact someone at the coalition after January 7, please reach out to a member of the Executive Committee or email tobaccofreema@gmail.com.

      Thank you!

      If you've made it this far, you likely also read the note from our Chair saying I'm leaving TFM to work on vaccine equity communications with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. I'm excited for my new adventure and grateful for all we've accomplished together. Thank you for keeping this coalition vibrant, relevant and always interesting!


      Gwendolyn StewartExecutive Director

      Tobacco Free Mass

      PO Box 380944

      Cambridge, MA  02238

      m: (617) 500-3449

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