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Maryland Cancer Group Urges State Legislators to Make Tobacco Control a Priority, Same Day as General Assembly Flavored Tobacco Hearing

February 4, 2020
ACS CAN volunteers meeting with state legislators Thurs. to ask for support of tobacco tax increase and flavored tobacco bills
 
ANNAPOLIS, Md.—On Thursday, Feb. 6, cancer patients and survivors from across the state will head to the Maryland State Capitol to meet with state lawmakers about supporting bills to end the sale of all flavored tobacco in Maryland. (HB3/SB233) and to increase the state’s tobacco excise tax by $2 per pack on cigarettes with a parallel tax of 86% of the wholesale price on all other tobacco products including e-cigarettes (SB3/HB 732).
 
The visit is part of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) annual Day at the Capitol event.
 
Specific asks will include: 1) ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, once and for all with no exceptions, and 2) increasing the cigarette excise tax by $2 per pack, with an equivalent tax (86% of wholesale price) on all other tobacco products including e-cigarettes, as part of a comprehensive approach to reduce tobacco use.
 
These Thursday visits fall on the same day that:
• High-profile Maryland legislators and members of the African-American community will be holding a press conference at 11 a.m. about HB3 prior to the 1 p.m. bill hearing (see below) outside the House Economic Matters Committee Room, House Office Building Room 231.  
• The Maryland General Assembly is holding a hearing at 1 p.m. for HB3, which would end the sale of flavored tobacco. ACS CAN’s Maryland Government Relations Director Jocelyn Collins will be at the hearing and available for interviews prior to and after the hearing. She is also available for interviews related to ACS CAN’s Maryland’s Day at the Capitol event.
 
Why this matters in Maryland:
• Almost one and five (18.2%) adults use any tobacco product, including 12.5% who use cigarettes.
• Any tobacco use by kids is too much. Currently, 23% of Maryland high school students use e-cigarettes, 5% smoke cigarettes, 6% smoke cigars, and 4.6% use smokeless tobacco.
• Twenty-seven percent of state cancer deaths are smoking related; 592,500 adults in Maryland still smoke.
 
“For decades, the tobacco industry has aggressively targeted the Maryland African American community with menthol cigarettes,” Collins said. “Now, with the rise of e-cigarettes and flavored cigars, we’re seeing history repeat itself—seeing Big Tobacco relentlessly target our state’s youth. We cannot afford any delay tactics in Maryland—we need a bill that protects the health of our youth and constituents. It’s time to finally end the sale of all flavored tobacco products.”
 
Related to the tobacco tax increase bill Collins said, “It’s a win-win-win for constituents’ health and the Maryland economy. If the bill is passed, it is projected to increase annual state revenue by $97.43 million and would decrease the long-term health care cost savings from adult and youth smoking by $1.11 billion. A $2 per pack cigarette tax increase is also estimated to decrease smoking in youth under age 18 by 20.8%.”
 
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About ACS CAN
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org.
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