Md. tobacco tax will save lives

May 23, 2012

As Gov.Martin O'Malleysigns into law the revenue measure passed during the recent special session, most of the attention will be on the income tax changes in the bill. Also in the new law will be an historic and life-saving increase in our state's tax on little cigars and smokeless tobacco.

Thanks to several increases in our cigarette tax over the past decade, we have dramatically reduced cigarette smoking in Maryland, especially among teens, saving tens of thousands of lives. But, because we did not increase the tax on little cigars and smokeless tobacco during this time, youth use of some of these deadly products actually increased, according to a study done by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Now, thanks to the leadership of Governor O'Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, our new tax increase will deter thousands of Maryland youth from becoming addicted to these life-threatening tobacco products. And, as in many other public health areas, Maryland will be leading the nation as we enact the only tobacco tax increase in the country so far this year and as we go from 34th highest cigar tax in the nation to 7th. We commend the administration and the General Assembly for this great public health victory for our state.

Vincent DeMarco, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative.

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