Md. Citizens' Health Initiative Push for Tobacco Tax Increase

- FREDERICK COUNTY, Md. - Some Marylanders are asking lawmakers to push for a tax increase on tobacco products.

The Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative wants to see tobacco tax increase a dollar per pack of cigarettes, and says statewide 64 percent of registered voters support the measure. The group says in Frederick County, Maryland support is even stronger.

“We found that over 70 percent of voters in district three supports raising a cigarette tax a dollar per pack to reduce teen smoking and fund healthcare,” said Vincent DeMarco of Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative.

Advocates say the past three tobacco tax increases the state issued helped smoking rates decline dramatically. According to the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, smoking rates declined by nearly 32 percent between 1998 and 2010. It’s a trend the group hopes to see continue, and they say the tax increase would also have other benefits.

“It's a great way to fund the Medicaid budget. People who smoke cost Medicaid more and tying that actual cost to what really happens makes sense from our perspective,” said Gene Ransom of the Maryland State Medical Society.

But, not everyone sees it as necessary, the poll shows 26 percent of Fredrick County residents are against the increase. Resident Charles Lee says he doesn't see the need for another tobacco tax increase. 

“I’m against it since it's already as high as it is now, I mean I think for as much money as they make off us a day, I don't see why they need to make more off of it. You know pick something else, tax snicker bars,” said Charles Lee of Frederick.

The projected new annual revenue from increasing the cigarettes tax rate by one dollar per pack could result in nearly 95 million dollars, according to the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative.

The District 3 poll included 250 random registered voters, and the statewide poll included 785. For more information, click here

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