1. Pass an omnibus tobacco control bill that would increase the age of sale for tobacco products to 21, include e-cigarettes in the smokefree workplace law, and prohibit the sale of tobacco in health care institutions;
2. Increase funding for the state's tobacco control program to $9 million per year; and
3. Increase access to tobacco cessation treatments and services.
Massachusetts continues to make strides, particularly at the local level, to implement stricter tobacco control regulations. There are now over 130 cities and towns, including Boston, that have raised the age of sale for tobacco products to 21. Boston's regulations also include limiting flavored tobacco to adult-only retail stores. There are over 120 cities and towns that have included e-cigarettes and similar products in their smokefree workplace regulations through a comprehensive definition of tobacco. In Massachusetts, 70 percent of the population living in over 140 cities and towns have also prohibited the sale of tobacco in health care institutions.
During the 2016 legislative session, many of these local initiatives were combined into an omnibus bill that would raise the age of sale for all tobacco products to 21 statewide, include e-cigarettes in the smokefree workplace law, and prohibit the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies. The bill overwhelmingly passed the Senate 32-2. Unfortunately, the bill was never brought to a vote in the House before the end of the session. This bill will be refiled and remain a priority for the American Lung Association in Massachusetts and our partners in Tobacco Free Massachusetts in 2017.
In June 2016, a poll released by Tobacco Free Mass and commissioned by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids showed Massachusetts voters supported raising the age of sale for tobacco products to 21 by nearly a two-to-one margin. The American Lung Association in Massachusetts believes, like the public, that the tobacco sale age should be raised to 21, and the omnibus tobacco control bill will make measurable impacts on the devastating toll of tobacco. During the 2017 legislative session, the Lung Association urges the legislature to act quickly on the omnibus tobacco control bill and include increased funding for the tobacco control program in the state budget for fiscal year 2018.