In 1992, the American Cancer Society, the Massachusetts Medical Society, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts declared war on Big Tobacco in Massachusetts. Working together, these organizations successfully passed a citizen ballot initiative - Question 1 - to raise the state tobacco excise tax by $.25 and devote the revenue to programs to reduce tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure in the Commonwealth. Since then, Massachusetts tobacco and public health advocates have been national leaders in fighting Big Tobacco and their tactics to hook another generation onto tobacco and nicotine.
Tobacco Free Mass successfully advocated for passage of increases in the tobacco excise tax four times in the last 20 years. It is estimated that the $1.00 per cigarette pack excise tax passed in 2013 will help 25,000 smokers quit and prevent 27,000 youth from starting to smoke. Also in 2013, Massachusetts lawmakers closed the loophole on other tobacco and smokeless products (OTPs) by increasing the excise tax to 210% of wholesale. The tax on cigarettes is the second highest and the OTP tax is the highest in the country.
Tobacco Free Mass continues to play a leading role in reducing the general public's exposure to secondhand smoke. Building on the successes of the local Boards of Health, Tobacco Free Mass advocated for the enactment of Massachusetts Smoke-Free Workplace Law in 2004 and in October 2013 launched a new initiative to help Massachusetts colleges and universities enact a tobacco-free campus policy. We have helped double the number of campuses with such a policy in just one year! The coalition has also led efforts in the state to ensure access to cessation services for MassHealth, Commonwealth Care, and private insurance subscribers, to increase funding for the Massachusetts Cessation and Tobacco Prevention program, to close state loopholes on the definition of tobacco and electronic nicotine delivery systems, and to ban the sale of tobacco products in healthcare institutions across the state.