ANNAPOLIS – Today, the Maryland Senate joined its colleagues in the House in voting to override Governor Hogan’s veto of a potentially lifesaving tobacco tax increase. Last March, lawmakers passed a bill (HB732), which included line items for increasing the state cigarette tax by $1.75 per pack and earmarking $18.25 million toward tobacco prevention and cessation programs. It also increased the tax on some types of other tobacco products and would tax e-cigarettes for the first time.
The following statement can be attributed to Jocelyn Collins, Maryland government relations director for ACS CAN:
“This tax was one that was frankly long overdue in Maryland, as our state has not passed a single tobacco tax increase in nearly a decade. We were also pleased with lawmakers’ decision to provide the state’s tobacco control programs with strong funding that will help prevent tobacco addiction and save lives.
“As our battle with COVID-19 continues, we must do everything in our power to keep our communities healthy and safe—which means building strong public health infrastructure including comprehensive tobacco control measures. Investing revenues from this tax increase into Maryland’s evidence-based tobacco control program will further ensure that our kids are deterred from picking up this deadly addiction in the first place and provide people who currently use tobacco the help they need to quit.
“The benefits extend beyond a positive public health impact: Not only is the $1.75 per pack cigarette tax increase projected to increase annual state revenue by over $95 million, but it will also decrease long-term health care costs from adult and youth smoking declines by over $973 million.
“Smoking is still linked to more than one-quarter of cancer-related deaths in our state—and results in $2.7 billion per year in health care costs in Maryland. Additionally, 23% of Maryland high school students are currently using e-cigarettes, which have been linked to the use of other tobacco products. The $1.75 per pack cigarette tax increase is also estimated to decrease smoking in youth under age 18 by 18.2%.
“Smoking remains the nation’s number one cause of preventable death, killing more than 480,000 Americans, and costing $170 billion in health care costs and $151 billion in lost productivity annually. In Maryland, smoking is responsible for 7,500 deaths each year.
“Significantly increasing tobacco taxes is one of the best ways to reduce tobacco use – and investments in proven tobacco control programs strengthens the positive public health impact. We believe that this bill will provide much-needed improvements to lessen the rising toll of tobacco in Maryland and thank our Sponsors, Del. Eric Luedtke and Sen. Cory McCray for their leadership, as well as, Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson. We also thank the members of the Maryland General Assembly for voting in support of this legislation.”
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.