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Accomplishments of the Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program
  1. H K Koh
  1. Correspondence to:
 Howard K Koh, MD MPH, Commissioner of Public Health, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 25 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02108, USA

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In less than a decade, the Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program (MTCP) has evolved into one of the leading public health initiatives of our time.1 Under the aegis of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), MTCP has dropped overall per capita adult cigarette consumption at a rate far exceeding the rest of the country and prompted striking declines in both adult and youth smoking prevalence.2,3 In this supplement to Tobacco Control, we document some notable milestones of this public health work in progress by showcasing the results of research and evaluation studies.

From the outset, the MTCP has committed to a comprehensive, aggressive, and integrated intervention. Promoting tobacco treatment and prevention strategies has not only served individual persons but also has improved the health of the entire state's population.4 Specifically, we set goals to assist adult smokers to receive treatment, to prevent children and youth from smoking, and to protect the general public from exposure to second hand tobacco smoke. Galvanising outrage at the local level has also accelerated policy changes that denormalise tobacco use. Massachusetts' legal challenges to the tobacco industry have led to hearings before the US Supreme Court. The constant “air war” of innovative, rotating anti-tobacco media messages further deglamorise this addiction.

In 1992, Massachusetts voters created MTCP by passing an initiative petition (Question 1) to raise the state cigarette tax (from $0.26 to $0.51 a pack) to fund tobacco control.1 Subsequently, in 1996, the state legislature increased the tax another $0.25 to fund health care for uninsured children and senior pharmacy services. Other state imposed surcharges include taxes of 15% on the wholesale price of cigars (1996) and 25% on the wholesale price of smokeless tobacco products.5 Annual funding for the MTCP has varied, ranging from a high of …

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