October brought a proposed FY 2021 budget, an attempt by retailers to derail the menthol law, and... snow?!  November promises to be every bit as interesting.

Governor Baker released his revised FY 2021 budget in October and it includes level funding from the original FY 2020 of $4.6 million in the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program’s budget line.  In a year when budget cuts abound, this is good news!

The next step is for House Ways and Means to release its version of the budget.  We are starting this process late in the fiscal year; this is the budget for the fiscal year we’re in, which began on July 1 of this year and ends on June 30, 2021.  So stay tuned—there's nothing to do right now, but we’ll keep you posted and we’ll let you know if we need to raise our voices at any point.  

Make sure you've registered for Beyond Menthol: Untangling Tobacco and Racism, Tobacco Free Mass' 2020 Policy Forum! Learn how the interconnectedness of tobacco and racism affects marketing, policy, and health impacts–and examine options for change. Thursday, November 19 from 3:00-4:30 EST on Zoom.

Learn more and register

News you can use

  • Tobacco retailers in Massachusetts held events in October to try to reverse the menthol sales law, saying they were losing tobacco sales. TFM's Chair, Dr. Lauren Smith, fired back; ultimately, the bill they had been promoting was sent to study, killing it.  Still, it shows that the industry hasn't given up on trying to weaken or undermine the new law, and that we need to continue to be vigilant and protect it.
  • One of the tobacco retailers' arguments is that illegal sales of menthol products is widespread, a claim that is vastly overblown.  Local tobacco control and the Attorney General's office have been monitoring and enforcing the law to ensure that this claim does not become reality.
  • Community-based programs have been hearing about "wellness" and "botanical" vapes that say they don't contain tobacco. Just a reminder that no matter how fancy your vape's name is or if it claims to be tobacco-free, if it's flavored, it can't be sold in Massachusetts.

Upcoming Tobacco Free Mass Meetings

The next full coalition and Advocacy Committee meetings are coming up in December, which suddenly doesn't seem that far away because of today's snowfall!

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

December 3 – Advocacy Committee 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.

Yes, it's scary!

As we're constantly reminded, these are uncertain times. But if you can find a way to distract yourself and have a little fun with the weirdness, please do.  And take good care of yourself--we'll see you soon... if only on Zoom!


Gwendolyn Stewart

Tobacco Coalition Director

m: (617) 500.3449


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