News From The State House
Tobacco Health Warning & Cessation Signage Success!
Rep. Naughton and Senator Pichardo's signage bills, as promoted by March of Dimes, a TFRI partner
organization, passed the House yesterday. The bills require that signs giving warnings about the health effects of tobacco, and information on smoking cessation
resources, be prominently displayed in both English and Spanish at the point of sale of tobacco products. Congratulations to March of Dimes!
Cigarette Tax Increase Fails
The proposed 90-cent increase in the cigarette tax supported by TFRI was not included in the House Budget. We
want to express our huge gratitude to bill sponsors Rep. Art Handy, and Sen. Pichardo, for all their efforts to push for this measure.
Electronic Cigarette Bills Pass
The tobacco industry-backed electronic cigarettes bills, sponsored in the House by Finance Chairman Melo, and
sponsored in the Senate by Majority Leader Ruggerio, passed in the RI House July 1. HB 5876A passed 40: 29, and SB 622A passed 48:21
The bills purport to protect youth from these new, addictive nicotine vapor products
by prohibiting their sale to minors -- and yet do not ban the kid-friendly flavors such as "bubblegum" and "lemonade" and
"chocolate", do not require e-cigarette vendors to be licensed, but punish minors who purchase, and do not tax e-cigarettes. It is a
TFRI and our health advocacy partner organizations argued that RI should hold this
bill and wait for the FDA to issue its science-based research into these new nicotine products and announce its regulatory guidance, and then craft a new and
robust regulatory bill in the fall based on sound science.
Although we are very disappointed that this bad bill has passed, we are heartened that many Reps
heard and understood our message and voted against.
We are now appealing to Governor Chafee to veto the bill.
Earlier in the session, after hearing the concerns of the public health advocates at
the bill hearing, House Finance Chairman Melo had pledged to TFRI and the Health Department that he would not move his bill forward in the House. He also promised
to work with us in the fall on a better bill. Chairman Melo explained to us that his bill, HB 5876A, had been amended and scheduled for a vote on July 1 without
his permission while he was out of town and should not have been voted on. He consequently requested his bill to be killed. The companion Senate bill, SB 622A,
passed in both the Senate and the House.
GOOD NEWS FROM MASSACHUSETTS!
On June 26, the Massachusetts
state legislature passed a $1 increase to the state's cigarette tax, bringing the new total to $3.51 a pack. The increase, which was part of a larger
transportation bill, is now with Governor Patrick for his signature. Once enacted, the increase will elevate the MA state cigarette tax to the second highest in
the nation (NY 1st, RI will be 3rd). It will go into effect seven days after being signed into law.