By Bob Katzen

“This study serves to reinforce what we have been saying for years: keeping flavored tobacco products, including menthol flavored cigarettes, off the shelves here in Massachusetts is making a measurable difference in slowing the state’s tobacco epidemic.

With smoking being the number one cause of preventable death and responsible for one-third of all cancer deaths, evidence of the effectiveness of flavor sale restrictions is incredibly valuable data and further supports our efforts to save lives from tobacco.”
— Marc Hymovitz, director of government relations for American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in Massachusetts, on a study by the American Cancer Society that he says shows that Massachusetts’ law ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol flavored cigarettes, implemented in June 2020, tremendously decreased menthol and all (menthol and nonflavored) cigarette sales in the state.

“The report published by the American Cancer Society is absurd. It is not surprising that in-state menthol cigarette sales declined when the state banned the legal sale of those products. However, to promote misleading findings by omitting significant facts is both irresponsible and dangerous as other states and some cities consider a similar policy.”
— Jonathan Shaer, Executive Director of the New England Convenience Store & Energy Marketers Association, asserting that the study completely ignores that an overwhelming majority of menthol cigarette sales immediately migrated to Rhode Island and New Hampshire where Massachusetts consumers made their purchases following implementation of the ban.

“Kevin Hayden is a dedicated public servant with a proven record of commitment to equitable justice and community engagement, and I am confident he will serve the families of Suffolk County as a respectful, collaborative and compassionate partner as district attorney.”
—Gov. Charlie Baker on his appointment of Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board Chairman Kevin Hayden as Suffolk County District Attorney to serve out the remainder of Rachael Rollins’ term. Rollins was appointed and sworn in as U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts by President Biden last week.

“Home health care agencies that accept state funds must be held to high standards of transparency and integrity. Our office will continue to protect the MassHealth program and make sure that it is not being billed for medically unnecessary services.”
— Attorney General Maura Healey announcing that her office reached a $630,000 settlement with Home Care VNA, a Chicopee-based home health care company and its owners, to resolve allegations that they billed MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program, for services that had not been appropriately authorized by a physician.

HOW LONG WAS LAST WEEK’S SESSION? Beacon Hill Roll Call tracks the length of time that the House and Senate were in session each week. Many legislators say that legislative sessions are only one aspect of the Legislature’s job and that a lot of important work is done outside of the House and Senate chambers. They note that their jobs also involve committee work, research, constituent work and other matters that are important to their districts. Critics say that the Legislature does not meet regularly or long enough to debate and vote in public view on the thousands of pieces of legislation that have been filed. They note that the infrequency and brief length of sessions are misguided and lead to irresponsible late-night sessions and a mad rush to act on dozens of bills in the days immediately preceding the end of an annual session.

During the week of January 3-7, the House met for a total of 34 minutes and the Senate met for a total of 16 minutes..

Mon. Jan. 3 House 11:00 a.m. to 11:10 a.m.
Senate 11:08 a.m. to 11:16 a.m.

Tues. Jan. 4 No House session
No Senate session

Wed. Jan. 5 House 11:09 a.m. to 11:22 a.m.
Senate 11:10 a.m. to 11:12 a.m.

Thurs. Jan. 6 House 11:00 a.m. to 11:11 a.m.
Senate 11:13 a.m. to 11:19 a.m.

Fri. Jan. 7 No House session
No Senate session

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