Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Massachusetts. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association in Massachusetts calls for the following actions to be taken by our elected officials:
- Pass the tobacco omnibus bill that includes raising the age of sale to 21, including ENDS in the smokefree workplace law, and prohibiting the sale of tobacco in healthcare institutions;
- Protect and/or increase tobacco cessation and prevention funding; and
- Increase access to tobacco cessation and treatment services.
Massachusetts is in the midst of a two-year state legislative cycle. For the second session in a row, the American Lung Association in Massachusetts along with our partners in Tobacco Free Mass have worked to file a tobacco omnibus bill that would raise the age of sale for tobacco products to 21, expand the smokefree workplace law to apply to e-cigarettes (ENDS), and prohibit the sale of tobacco in healthcare institutions like pharmacies. The House version of the bill has 101 sponsors from both parties, including 92 of 160 Representatives, the remaining sponsors are Senators. The Senate version also has strong support. The same bill passed the Senate last session 32-2. The bill has been heard in the Joint Committee on Public Health, and we are hoping to pass this bill through the finish line by the end of the session in July 2018.
While state work is on-going, local communities keep advancing tobacco control at impressive levels. Over 66 percent of the Commonwealth's population is currently covered by Tobacco 21 at the local level, with over 155 communities passing local regulations. One hundred thirty municipalities have included ENDS in their smokefree workplace regulations covering 56 percent of the population, and 152 communities have prohibited the sale of tobacco in healthcare institutions covering 67 percent of the state's population. The Lung Association will continue to push tobacco control policies at both the state and local levels.
The American Lung Association in Massachusetts believes, like the public, that the tobacco sale age should be raised to age 21, and the omnibus tobacco control bill will make measurable impacts on the devastating toll of tobacco. During the 2017-2018 legislative session, the Lung Association urges the legislature to pass the omnibus tobacco control bill and include increased funding for the tobacco control program in the state budget for fiscal year 2019.