POCOMOKE CITY, Md.- Smokers in Maryland could have to pay more to light up. The health group, Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative based out of Baltimore is proposing a $1 tax hike on cigarette sales.
The group claims that past tobacco increases have reduced smoking in the state by 32%, double the national average, saving over 70,000 lives.
The state's tobacco tax doubled in 2007 from $1 to $2. Earlier this year, lawmakers approved tax increases on tobacco products other than cigarettes.
Those products included little cigars and smokeless tobacco such as snuff.
"That's kind of crazy," said Marcus Thomas, who is an employee at the Duck In in Pocomoke City. "They (his customers) try to find another store within the area that is just a little bit cheaper and it's a big impact, because the more they go up then the more money we lose in small little businesses like this one."
Compared to Maryland's $2 tax on a pack of cigarettes, other Delmarva states are cheaper.
Delaware tacks on a $1.60 tax while in Virginia there is only a 30 cent tax on a pack of cigarettes.
"They just legalized gambling so they need to leave the smokers alone and pick up the money there," said Jimmy Cash who has been smoking for many years,"I mean that's why I go to Virginia."
"That won't stop me from smoking or buying it," said Dywan Marshall, "because you know that's going to hurt Maryland more than it's going hurt anybody else."
While some people said that another tax increase is unnecessary some other people like Eugena Hutt who is a former smoker said it's a good idea.
"My mother raised me saying that if you wanted someone's attention you hit them in their pockets," she said,"so with a bill like this it's going to hit you in your pocket and you will do something to save money, so it will work."
The group said it hopes that the governor and general assembly will support their proposal during the upcoming session in January.
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