April 9, 2014
Pat Warren

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Paying more to smoke. Candidates for seats in the General Assembly are being asked to state their positions on a cigarette tax hike. Political reporter Pat Warren has more on what’s asked of them.

The Healthy Maryland Initiative wants to raise the cigarette tax from $2 to $3 a pack.

“Increase the tobacco tax in Maryland by a dollar per pack.” That’s the organization’s message to the candidates.

“Tobacco taxes helps to stop smoking,” said Sen. Richard Madeleno, (D) Montgomery County.
But this is what they’re after:

“I quit, so, I support people who are going to quit,” said Leanne Greenhalgh.

There are graphic campaigns to get people to quit, but a proven incentive to prevent young people from starting is the price of a pack.

It’s generally understood that politicians don’t raise taxes in an election year. A bill to raise the tax to $3 a pack died in the session that just ended.

Now supporters are trying to get lawmakers to sign a resolution, promising a tax hike in 2015 in order to get elected.

“The document simply says ‘I support the dollar tobacco tax to reduce smoking and fund health care needs.’ We’re going to ask every single candidate for General Assembly to sign this,” said Vincent DeMarco, Healthy Maryland Initiative.

The idea gets mixed reactions.

“I think even a greater increase would help to eliminate even more smoking,” said Jesse Rothstein.

“”No. No, I don’t like it cause I got a lot of friends who smoke, even though I don’t like them smoking,” said Paul Malcolm.

“It’s not just the individual and their lungs, but it’s also a wider population issue. And so I think we would support that,” said Bryan Dougan.

Letters to candidates went out Wednesday.

The Healthy Maryland Initiative plans to publicize each candidate’s response. The entire General Assembly is up for election this year.

Maryland raised the cigarette tax to $2 a pack in 2008.

Last modified: April 10, 2014