Legislative Update

Legislative Update

Funding for Tobacco Prevention & Cessation Programs – Master Settlement Agreement

Well-funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs can save Pennsylvania billions of dollars in tobacco-related health care costs.  Since 2004, funding for tobacco prevention and cessation program has been greatly reduced.  Due to these significant cuts in funding, many programs are no longer serving their communities. The need to educate legislators about the importance of these life-saving programs is greater than ever.

On March 3, 2015, Governor Wolf presented his vision for the Commonwealth budget in the budget address to the legislature. Governor Wolf’s budget is a starting point—the Republican-led House and Senate will now convene hearings through the rest of March with state agency leaders to explore the finer details of the proposal.  There are numerous big ticket items on the table—tax increases, spending increases, and major reforms.  We fully expect the debate to continue throughout the spring on all of these items.

This budget proposes to allocate funds for 2015-16 based on the anticipated April 2016 MSA payment. The distribution of funds is 30 percent for Medicaid benefits for workers with disabilities, 13.6 percent for health and related research, 13 percent for home and community-based services, 4.5 percent for tobacco use prevention and cessation (same as 2014-2015), 8.18 percent for uncompensated care and 30.72 percent for health-related purposes. In addition, the annual strategic payment is recommended to be appropriated for health-related purposes.

The Tobacco Prevention and Cessation program is currently funded at $13.8 Million.  This allows these essential programs to be maintained to help reduce tobacco related disease across the Commonwealth and help reduce the burden of health care costs associated with tobacco use and exposure. Your continued legislator education activities are a key activity during this time period.   More about Master Settlement Agreement…

Other Tobacco Products Excise Tax

On July 13, 2016, Pennsylvania legislators approved, and Governor Wolf has signed into law, a $1.00 cigarette tax increase that will reduce tobacco rates, save lives and prevent thousands of kids from becoming addicted to cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. The increase has raised the state cigarette tax of $1.60 per pack to a total of $2.60 per pack. Additionally, taxing e-cigarettes at 40% of wholesale which will also discourage Pennsylvanians, especially youth, from using these products. We applaud the legislature’s decision to join the rest of the country by implementing a first-time tax on other tobacco products, such as smokeless and roll-your-own tobacco. However, Pennsylvania missed an opportunity to fully protect residents from the health harms of tobacco by introducing the tax as a weight-based tax on smokeless, roll-your-own and not taxing cigars. Pennsylvania still remains one of the only two states that does not tax cigars.

By failing to apply the same tax structure across all non-cigarette forms of tobacco based on their price at an equitable rate to cigarettes the legislature has created an uneven tax structure making some tobacco products comparatively cheaper than others. This price discrepancy will make some products more appealing to price sensitive consumers including youth. We support the governor’s proposal to tax all non-cigarette forms of tobacco at 40% of wholesale as it is the simplest and most effective way to protect kids from the health harms of other tobacco products.  More about Other Tobacco Products…

FDA Deeming Rule

Today, August 8, 2016, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) final “deeming” rule – giving the agency the authority to regulate the manufacture, sales and marketing of all tobacco products including e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah, little cigars and other tobacco products – takes effect.  This long-awaited rule will mean that FDA can begin to crack down on industry marketing to kids, unproven health claims and sales to minors.  More about the rule can be found in the additional materials section below.

A new study was also published today in the journal Pediatrics.  It identifies some of the reasons why kids use e-cigarettes. A statement from National President and CEO Harold P. Wimmer is available here.

The American Lung Association played a key role in ensuring a strong, robust rule was finalized and will continue to fight to have it and others fully implemented.

Appropriations Riders in Congress Threaten Rule

Unfortunately, the tobacco industry continues its attempts to weaken this rule by successfully urging the House of Representatives to attach so-called appropriations “riders” to the FDA’s funding bill, which would prohibit FDA from implementing key provisions of the final rule. We continue to advocate with our partners against these riders in order to keep the Tobacco Control Act strong and effective.

Please mark your calendars for a nationwide call in day on September 7th, opposing these riders against FDA and others that would weaken EPA’s authority. Stay tuned for more information.

Industry Lawsuits Challenge Rule

Also as expected, multiple lawsuits have been filed against FDA and the deeming rule. The American Lung Association National Office is actively monitoring these lawsuits, and with partners, will be submitting legal briefs supporting FDA and opposing all of the industry’s lawsuits.

Additional Materials

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Final Rule

On November 30, 2016 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it will require all public housing agencies to go smokefree. This rule will protect two million Americans, across the country, from exposure to secondhand smoke in their homes. This included those most vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke, including 760,000 children and more than 300,000 adults ver the age of 62. The policies apply to residential units as well as common areas. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there is no safe level of secondhand smoke. Across the U.S., more than 41,000 deaths per year and a wide array of damaging health effects are caused or made worse by exposure to secondhand smoke, including lung cancer, respiratory infections and asthma. Asthma has a disproportionate impact on low-income residents living in federally subsidized housing and exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger asthma exacerbations. Children with asthma are especially sensitive to secondhand smoke, and may suffer from more frequent asthma attacks and more and longer hospitalizations as a result. More than 600 public housing authorities nationwide have already gone smokefree, protecting their residents and reducing the risk of fires and costs to property owners.

Comprehensive Clean Indoor Air

The Pennsylvania Clean Indoor Air Act went into effect on September 11, 2008.  The law makes exceptions for a number of workplaces across the Commonwealth. On March 16, 2017, Senator Greenleaf introduced SB 519. SB 519 strengthens the Clean Indoor Air Act (CIAA) by adding e-cigarettes to the law, clarifying and adding definitions, eliminating exceptions, and removing preemption language allowing for the enactment of smoke-free local ordinances.

With this legislation, the following exceptions would be removed from the CIAA: Drinking establishments, licensed gaming facilities, private clubs, residential facilities, fundraisers, tobacco promotion events, full services truck stops, and workplaces of manufacturer, importer, or wholesaler of tobacco products. Senator Greenleaf also added language to prohibit smoking on patios, balconies, decks, or similar outdoor service spaces of restaurants and drinking establishments.

The bill has been assigned to the Health and Human Services Senate Committee. Co-Sponsors of the bill includes Sen. Scavello, Sen. Schwank, Sen. Haywood, Sen. Costa, Sen. Brewster, Sen. Blake, and Sen. Yaw.  Although this bill is not model policy, the American Lung Association and PACT are in support of Senator Greenleaf’s efforts.

More about Clean Indoor Air…

PACT Legislative Tracking Document