May 31 is World No Tobacco Day, an annual awareness day created by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1987 to highlight the fact that tobacco use is deadly and that there are effective policies that reduce consumption.
This year for World No Tobacco Day, WHO and its partners are calling on countries to raise taxes on tobacco. This is an action identified in the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report—The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress—to effectively and dramatically address tobacco use. A tax increase of only 10% has been shown to decrease consumption by 4%, and has been shown to decrease youth smoking by 7%.
Last July, Massachusetts increased the state excise tax on cigarettes by $1.00, an action that reduced the number of cigarette packs sold in Massachusetts by 35 million packs, a 16% drop in consumption over the previous year. This increase made an impact, but there is still work to be done.
As higher taxes drive down cigarettes’ popularity, the tobacco industry replaces them with new, less expensive products, including flavored cigars and disposable e-cigarettes. This tobacco industry strategy has been effective; high school students now smoke cigars at the same rate as cigarettes. E-cigarette use among young people has doubled in the last couple of years.
Both of these products use flashy packaging and widespread product placement to target young people. But their cheap prices are what really make them desirable and accessible to youth. When the cigarette tax went into place in June, the cigar tax was also increased, but by only a few pennies per cigar, not nearly enough to make an impact. E-cigarettes have no excise tax at all. As long as tobacco products go untaxed, they will be accessible and attractive to young people.
We have made great progress in Massachusetts in reducing tobacco use, but the battle is not yet over for cigarettes or other tobacco products. But with a focus on proven strategies and a comprehensive approach to the problem, we are on track to win the battle in the end.
By Heather Wise, Health Communication Specialist in the Division of Prevention and Wellness at the Department of Public Health
Massachusetts Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) & Climate Change posted on Jun 23
The Environmental Toxicology Program in the Bureau of Environmental Health has developed a climate assessment approach that leverages the combined resources of the Massachusetts Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) tool and the CDC Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE) framework. The approach actively engages stakeholders …Continue Reading Massachusetts Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) & Climate Change
Love in Action: Supporting One Another in Challenging Times posted on Jun 15
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr. What do we do when horrible things happen? A tragedy like what happened at Orlando’s LGBTQ Pulse nightclub is so …Continue Reading Love in Action: Supporting One Another in Challenging Times
Getting Hurt is Not in Your Job Description posted on Jun 13
POP QUIZ: Deli slicers – How hard can they be to use? Everyone seems to have story about someone being cut at work while using a deli slicer*. If you don’t have one yourself, ask a friend or colleague—they almost certainly do. And more often …Continue Reading Getting Hurt is Not in Your Job Description