Advocates Say the Tobacco Tax Increase Will Save Lives and Increase Revenue
Today, the Maryland Senate voted to override the governor’s veto of HB 732, the final step in enacting the state’s first cigarette tax increase in almost a decade. The policy includes a $1.75 per pack increase on cigarettes and, for the first time, a tax on electronic smoking devices (e-cigarettes). The tobacco tax increase is projected to raise over $95 million in revenue, reduce the long-term health care costs from adult and youth smoking, offset costs associated with COVID-19, and provide critical funding for Maryland’s Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program.
Several members of the Maryland Tobacco-Free Coalition, including the American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Maryland PIRG, MD GASP, and the Maryland Public Health Association issued the following statement in response to the veto override:
“We are deeply grateful that the General Assembly has taken a major step forward in reducing tobacco use in Maryland by voting to override the Governor’s veto of the first cigarette tax increase in almost a decade. Through their action today, our legislators have stepped-up to protect all Marylanders from another deadly threat to their health – tobacco use.
After decades of aggressive marketing to our kids and communities of color, one in four cancer deaths in Maryland is linked to smoking, and 7,500 residents die each year from smoking-related causes. With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention naming smoking as a risk factor for developing severe illness from COVID-19, this proven public health measure could not come at a better time.
In addition to reducing smoking in young people under 18 by an estimated 18%, this policy will increase state revenue to fund education and mitigate the fiscal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy. It will also provide funding for state programs that combat tobacco use in our kids and help adults quit. It’s a win-win for Maryland.
As this policy is implemented, we strongly urge state officials to uphold the bill’s earmarked funding for the state’s Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program, a vital component in the fight to stop children from starting to smoke and help tobacco users quit.”