Tobacco tax helps save lives
To the editor:
In November 1992 voters from across the commonwealth took the courageous step of voting in favor of a referendum that would add a 25-cent tax to each pack of cigarettes sold in Massachusetts.
This tax would be used to help current smokers get the resources to quit when they were ready to make that life-saving decision.
Twenty years later that quarter tax is responsible for a revolution that has saved lives, prevented youth from becoming addicted and saved the commonwealth millions of dollars in health care costs.
Since the time of that vote we have seen a dramatic change in the way we think about tobacco, and that has directly resulted in the elimination of unattended sales to minors at vending machines, increased participation in health care benefits for quit-smoking medicines and counseling and our ability to enjoy a meal without being clouded in smoke.
Locally, we at the Hampshire Council of Governments have assisted the Northampton library and the Hampshire Mall with their “smoke-free properties” initiative and we continue to offer guidance to private landlords and public housing as more property owners are considering adopting smoke-free lease language.
We wish to thank the voters in Hampshire County who had the foresight to envision a future free of tobacco and who continue to support their friends and neighbors as they try to quit.
Michele Komosa is the Tobacco Free Community Partnership director for the Hampshire Council of Governments.