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Coalition to push for $1 a pack increase

Baltimore Sun
October 5, 2011

The same people who pushed the “dime-a-drink” hike to the alcohol tax and the “dollar-a-pack” increase to the state tobacco tax are launching a new campaign: Another $1 increase to the cost of a pack of cigarettes.

The group is headed by Vincent DeMarco, includes AARP Maryland, MedChi and the NAACP among others. They plan lobby lawmakers next session to increase Maryland’s rate to $3 a pack.

New York now has the highest tax rate on cigarettes in the country, at $4.35 a pack, according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, an anti-smoking group. Five other states and Guam tax packs of cigarettes at $3 or higher.

DeMarco and his group would want the revenues to fund “critical health care and public health needs.” The General Assembly last increased the tax on cigarettes during a special session in November 2007. At that time it went from $1 a pack to $2 a pack and made Maryland’s rate the 11th highest in the country.

Bruce Bereano, who represents some tobacco wholesalers said it is “pretty pathetic” that DeMarco is pursuing this increase. “It’s just to keep him in business. It is just to keep him relevant.”

Bereano added: “it is time for government to leave adult smokers alone. … they are not ATM machines for government.”