By Sophia Finfer

We’ve had a busy few months here in the Tobacco Control Division, wrapping up some of our Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) initiatives and implementing our new regulations. We’ve certainly had a lot of exciting things on our plate.

This month we ended our two-year long nicotine patch give-away—an excellent initiative in which we were able to provide Boston residents with two weeks of free patches. This year we sent patches to 3,000 people!

For the past year we have been working with 10 Boston hospitals on a tobacco-free initiative.

All 10 hospitals have made excellent strides in creating smoke-free policies to benefit their patients, visitors and employees. In the past year, 4 of these hospitals have made their campuses completely smoke-free—most recently, in April Tufts Medical Center launched their new smoke-free policy at a wonderful event!

In December 2011 the Board of Health passed two new regulations. We amended our smoke-free workplace regulation to include electronic cigarettes (“Clean Air Works Workplace Smoking and E-Cigarette Use Restrictions”), and created a minimum packaging requirement for cheap cigars (“Youth Access Regulation”).

These fruit and candy flavored cigars are attractive to young people, and were previously available for as little as fifty cents! Since price is often a barrier for youth, the Board of Health voted that retailers can only sell these cheap cigars in packages of 4 or more. There was an initial adjustment period for tobacco retailers and so far we have had very few violations of these new regulations.

Moving forward, we will be focusing on our smoke-free housing initiative—all of the Boston Housing Authorities 11,000 units are going completely smoke-free in September!—as well as our anti-tobacco efforts in Boston Public Schools. BPS will be incorporating a new health curriculum with a tobacco prevention focus. So while some initiatives are winding down we certainly still have a lot of exciting work ahead of us!

Sophia Finfer is a Program Coordinator for the Tobacco Control Division. She likes eating Italian food and long days on the beach.