By Becca Heller | MarylandReporter.com
Tobacco lobbyists and anti-smoking advocates went head to head in a high-stakes hearing Wednesday on the Maryland legislature’s latest proposal to raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes from $2 to $3. The tax rate on cigars would triple from 30 percent to 95 percent.
Sponsored by Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell, this is the third year the bill to raise cigarette and tobacco taxes has been filed in both chambers of the General Assembly. Though legislators haven’t had success in passing it yet, Maryland’s not-so-distant past reflects a spate of tobacco tax increases.
“We have made tremendous progress over the past decade in reducing the smoking of cigarettes, with cigarette smoking dropping by 32 percent in this time (double the national average), as a result of three increases in the state tax on cigarettes over the past decade,” said Vincent DeMarco, president of Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative.