|Posted:||February 5, 2019 10:06 AM|
|From:||Representative Justin M. Walsh|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Prohibiting Use of EBT Cards to Purchase Tobacco Products|
|In the near future, I plan to reintroduce legislation that would amend the state Public Welfare Code to prohibit the use of certain types of payment by consumers to purchase tobacco and tobacco products.
Currently, an individual who is receiving cash assistance is able to use an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card to purchase tobacco and tobacco products at “points of sale.” Under my proposal, tobacco would not be able to be purchased through such means. The Public Welfare Code already prohibits the purchase of liquor and alcohol with EBT cards; this bill will add tobacco to that list. Additionally, my bill will make it illegal for entities licensed by the PA Gaming Control Board and the PA Liquor Control Board to allow recipients to use public assistance benefits as a form of payment.
As a state legislator, I feel it is incumbent upon us to help ensure that publicly-funded benefits intended to support the basic necessities of life are used in a responsible manner. Most of our public assistance programs are designed to support families with children, and every dollar spent on tobacco is one less dollar for their care.
I realize that there is no foolproof way to guarantee that individuals who utilize EBT cards will employ these benefits for the good of themselves and their families in all cases. However, I strongly believe that we, as stewards of both public monies and the health of our citizens, should make every effort to be proactive so that it is not easy and convenient for recipients to use their benefit cards at a "point of sale" location to purchase tobacco products.
Introduced as HB847