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Tax will help deter kids from all forms of tobacco

The Baltimore Sun
August 07, 2012

A recent article on tobacco use pointed out that although cigarette smoking has gone down nationally, the use of cigars and other non-cigarette tobacco products has gone up over the past few years (“Cigarette use down, other tobacco up, CDC says,” Aug. 3).

A recent study of Maryland youth tobacco use reported a similar troubling trend — while fewer kids are getting addicted to cigarettes (thanks to our smoke-free air laws and tax increases), more kids are smoking cheap flavored cigars that are just as detrimental to their health. The report also noted that the trend is especially pronounced in communities of color, contributing to grim health disparities.

This is why we at the Maryland Health Care For All! Coalition strongly support the new tax increase on little cigars and smokeless tobacco (chew and spit) enacted this year by Gov.Martin O’Malleyand the General Assembly.

Over the past 10 years, our state’s three cigarette tax increases have resulted in a 32 percent drop in cigarette smoking in our state (double the national average), saving tens of thousands of lives.

Just as the cigarette tax increases substantially reduced cigarette smoking, especially among kids, evidence from other states shows that our new tax on little cigars and smokeless tobacco will save the lives of thousands of young Marylanders by deterring their use of these deadly products and expanding access to tobacco cessation services.

Suzanne Schlattman, Baltimore

The writer is community outreach and development director for Maryland Citizens Health Initiative Education Fund, Inc.