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Cigarette tax hike called for in Maryland

WAMU 88.5

November 14, 2012
By Matt Bush

 
Maryland has seen several taxes increased over the past few years. And now, a group of public health advocates want to see the tax on cigarettes go up right along with them.

The Maryland Health Care For All Coalition wants the General Assembly to raise the tax on cigarettes a dollar a pack when it convenes early next year. Doing so would make Maryland’s cigarette tax the sixth highest in the nation at $3 a pack.

Supporters say higher cigarette taxes lower the smoking rate, particularly among teens. That’s why Montgomery County executive Isiah Leggett supports the tax hike.

“When you think about it, we’re dealing with a problem here that is preventable,” says Leggett. “We’re dealing with the lives of our young people, who unfortunately far too often move in the wrong direction when it comes to cigarettes.”

Getting such a tax hike approved next year could be tricky, as several taxes have been increased over the past two years and senators and delegates may not have the appetite to raise another one. But public health advocates have been successful in getting their wishes passed recently, as the state alcohol tax was raised in 2011, and the tax on cigars and smokeless tobacco was increased this year.