The General Assembly reconvenes Wednesday for its 2012 session. It is the second year of the term, and that is typically the legislature’s most productive time — new lawmakers have some experience, but the next election isn’t so close that political considerations overshadow all else. Considering the scope of issues they are likely to face — from taxes to gay marriage — legislators, and the public, are in for a long 90 days. Here are some of the issues we¿ll be watching closely this year…
A series of increases in the cigarette tax since 1999 has paid dividends in lower smoking rates, particularly for teens. But tobacco companies are increasingly marketing flavored cigars that are popular among minors, and taxes on those products are now disproportionately low compared to cigarettes. According to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene¿s Youth Tobacco Survey, nearly as many teens now smoke cigars as cigarettes. The state should raise taxes on cigars and other tobacco products so they are equivalent to cigarette taxes.
Last modified: January 11, 2012