By overriding the governor’s veto, the Maryland legislature enacted a $1.75 per pack state cigarette tax increase, protecting kids and health, an anti-smoking group said.
The state should now work on ending the sale of flavored tobacco products to stop tobacco companies from targeting kids for nicotine addiction, Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said.
“The cigarette tax increase is a win-win-win solution for Maryland – a health win that will reduce smoking and save lives, a financial win that will raise much-needed revenue, and a political win that polls show is popular with voters. We applaud the legislative champions and local public health groups for their leadership in fighting tobacco use – still the No. 1 cause of preventable death,” Myers said in a statement.
The cigarette tax hike will prevent 15,300 Maryland kids from becoming smokers, the group said, while also spurring 32,600 adult smokers to quit and save over $970 million in future health care costs.
The new law also increases taxes on e-cigarettes and vaping liquids. In all, the tax will increase the funding for the state’s tobacco prevention and cessation program from $10 million to $18.25 million annually.
Now, the group said, the state should turn its attention to flavored tobacco products and ban the sale of all flavored e-cigarettes, cigars, and cigarettes.
“While Maryland has made great progress, tobacco use still claims 7,500 lives and costs the state more than $2.7 billion in health care bills each year. In Maryland, 12.7 percent of adults and 5 percent of high school students still smoke cigarettes, and 23 percent of Maryland high school students currently use e-cigarettes,” Myers said. “By increasing tobacco taxes and its investment in tobacco prevention and cessation programs, Maryland can accelerate progress in reducing tobacco use and improve the state’s health for generations to come. Ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products is another critical action the state must take.”