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, the state has seen a dramatic change in the way people think about tobacco. The change in perspective 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, the Medford Public Health Department continues to work on the prevention of sales to minors through compliance checks and education to the public about the risks of tobacco. With the cities prevention efforts there has been a decrease in the number of youth smokers. According to the Communities that Care Youth Survey conducted every two years grade 6th-12th, Medford High School students current tobacco use has decreased from 14.8 percent in 2005 to 12.7 percent in 2011.
We wish to thank the voters in the City of Medford who had the foresight to envision a future free of tobacco and who continue to support their family, friends and neighbors as they try to quit.
Diane Knight, Northeast Tobacco Free Community Partnership
Brooke Hoyt, Medford Health Matters
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