Maryland Leads with First Tobacco Tax Hike of 2012

May 23, 2012

photo

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has signed a life-saving increase in the state's tax on little cigars and smokeless tobacco, products that the tobacco industry is marketing heavily in a bid to entice youth to use tobacco.

Lower tax rates on cigars and smokeless tobacco compared to cigarettes have helped fuel an increase in teen use of these products. While cigarette smoking among Maryland high school students has decreased nearly 40 percent since 2000, cigar use has increased by more than 11 percent during the same period.

Nationally, nearly one in five high school boys currently smoke some type of cigar and each day, almost 3,000 kids under 18 try cigar smoking for the first time.

The Maryland tax on non-premium cigars will increase from 15 percent of the wholesale price to 70 percent under the new law. Taxes on other tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco, will double.

'We are going to save thousands of young people from addiction to these products,' says Vincent DeMarco, president of the Maryland Citizens Health Initiative. 'We are thrilled. This will be a great public health victory for the people of Maryland.'

It's a big step forward for Maryland. But the state can make even more progress by further increasing the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products and using some of the revenue to restore funding for its tobacco prevention programs.

Read more about little cigars and youth.