Maryland Lawmakers Consider Tobacco Tax Increase - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Maryland Lawmakers Consider Tobacco Tax Increase

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The cost per pack of cigarettes would rise from $2.00 to $3.00 (Photo:WBOC) The cost per pack of cigarettes would rise from $2.00 to $3.00 (Photo:WBOC)

CAMBRIDGE, Md.- Smoking is a deadly habit, one that some Annapolis lawmakers are working to make a thing of the past.  Their solution is an increase in cigarette taxes by a dollar.  That has some smokers like Michelle Robinson of Cambridge annoyed.

"It's unfair.  The reason being, I understand the issue with smoking, but if they are going to raise the price on smoking, why not with alcohol?" asked Robinson.

The money raised by the $1 increase would go toward funding a $21 million annual commitment starting in fiscal year 2018 for smoking cessation programs if the bill is passed. Despite the increase, smokers say they will still buy them.  Maryland's cigarette tax right now is sitting at $2 for a pack.  At Center Market in Cambridge, the average price for a pack is around $6.50.  But even after that $2 tax, most customers are still opting for the pack of Newports at $7.75 per pack.

"They've already raised it once, now they want to do it again, and people still continue to smoke," said Robinson.

The bill's preamble says that when the first increase in tax happened, the money raised allowed healthcare coverage to extend to 100,000 people, bringing Maryland to 14th in the nation from 44th in providing healthcare for low income adults.

The owners of the stores that sell cigarettes say the lawmakers ultimately don't have to face the customers they are taxing.

"I think it's wrong for the government to manipulate personal decisions with a tax.  I don't agree with it.  I think the tax is high enough as it is now," said Center Market owner Ricky Travers.

Lawmakers said bill will reduce tobacco use in teens and adults, saving lives and healthcare costs statewide.

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