Cumberland Times-News

Local News

November 26, 2012

Proposed boost in state’s cigarette tax draws fire

CUMBERLAND — Local legislators oppose a proposal to hike the tax of a price of cigarettes bought in Maryland by $1 a pack.

“It’s ludicrous ... we’re such a small state, and it will drive people across the borders,” said Delegate Kevin Kelly.

Although he’s not a smoker, Delegate LeRoy Myers Jr. said the result of a tax increase would hurt small businesses. “They’ll drive across the bridge and not just buy tobacco, but milk, bread and eggs,” Myers said.

On Nov. 14 the Maryland Health Care For All! Coalition announced the campaign on Lawyers’ Mall in front of the State House in Annapolis.

“Over the past decade, three cigarette tax increases in Maryland have reduced smoking by 32 percent (double the national average) and saved 70,000 Marylanders from tobacco caused preventable deaths,” said Vincent DeMarco, President of the Maryland Health Care For All! Coalition.

Kelly disputes that idea, saying that consumption isn’t down just because sales are down. It simply means folks are going into border states to buy cheaper smokes.

“In McCoole and Westernport, people will just head across the bridge,” Kelly said.

Myers and Sen. George Edwards had the same thoughts.

“I’m not sure that’s going to get a lot of traction,” Edwards said, since tobacco taxes on other products were increased just last year.

The money can be used well, DeMarco has said.

“The money raised from the 2007 tobacco tax increase also helped to fund health care coverage for over 100,000 Maryland parents.  We can build on this success by enacting another dollar increase in the cigarette tax which will save tens of thousands more lives from tobacco caused death and raise another $100 million which can be used to fund health care and public health needs.”

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