Reese, Metzgar Urge Prohibition of Using Public Assistance Dollars to Purchase Tobacco
HARRISBURG -- Reps. Mike Reese (R-Westmoreland/Somerset) and Carl Walker Metzgar (R-Somerset/Bedford) are supporting a bill that would prohibit the use of public assistance cards issued by the Department of Human Services for the purchasing of tobacco.
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 House Bill 1038, authored by Reese, these products would not be able to be purchased through such means.
“If someone has fallen on tough times, we should have programs in place to help them,” Reese said. “But those programs have a specific purpose in supporting the basic necessities of life while that person is bettering their situation. But buying tobacco should not be on the backs of taxpayers.”
“This bill is common sense legislation,” Metzgar said. “These are public tax dollars and should not be used frivolously.”
House Bill 1038 would also prohibit EBT card cash withdrawals at businesses licensed by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. The Public Welfare Code already prohibits the purchase of liquor and alcohol with EBT cards. A similar bill was passed by the House Health Committee during the 2013-14 legislative session but was not considered on the House floor.
“Like any government expense, these funds must be spent wisely,” Reese said. “Every assistance dollar that is wasted could otherwise be used to help a struggling family pay their rent or buy groceries, which is the true purpose of assistance programs.”
“Hard-working Pennsylvanians are making difficult choices about how to best spend their money and are often avoiding unnecessary purchases,” Metzgar added. “It’s inappropriate to assume that they should be paying for someone else’s tobacco.”
House Bill 1038 is currently assigned to the House Health Committee for consideration.
Representative Mike Reese
59th District
Representative Carl Walker Metzgar
69th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Raymond Smith
Share |