Maryland Tobacco Tax Increase Is a… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Maryland Tobacco Tax Increase Is a Big Win for Kids and Health

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
March 18, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC – It is terrific news for Maryland’s kids and health that the state legislature has approved a $1.75 per pack increase in the state cigarette tax. The cigarette tax increase is a win-win-win solution for Maryland – a health win that will reduce smoking and save lives, a financial win that will raise much-needed revenue and a political win that polls show is popular with voters. We applaud the legislative champions and local public health groups for their leadership in fighting tobacco use – still the No. 1 cause of preventable death. And we urge Gov. Hogan to sign the bill into law promptly.

Cigarette smoking damages nearly every organ in the human body and greatly harms overall health, including by increasing risk of respiratory infections. So Maryland’s actions to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit could not be more timely. The evidence is clear that raising the price of cigarettes is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, especially among kids. The $1.75 cigarette tax increase is projected to:

  • Prevent 15,300 Maryland kids from becoming smokers
  • Spur 32,600 current adult smokers to quit
  • Save 12,700 Marylanders from premature, smoking-caused deaths
  • Save over $970 million in future health care costs.

In addition to increasing the cigarette tax, the Maryland legislature also increased taxes on various other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and certain vaping liquids. Importantly, lawmakers approved a significant increase in funding for the state’s tobacco prevention and cessation program – from $10 million to $18.25 million annually.

We are disappointed that before adjourning the legislature did not resolve the issue of flavored tobacco products, including flavored e-cigarettes that are addicting a whole new generation of kids. We strongly urge the legislature to take this issue up when it’s in session next and end the sale of flavored tobacco products once and for all.

While Maryland has made great progress, tobacco use still claims 7,500 lives and costs the state more than $2.7 billion in health care bills each year. In Maryland, 12.6% of adults and 5.0% of high school students still smoke cigarettes; over 23% of Maryland high school students currently use e-cigarettes. By increasing the tobacco tax and its investment in tobacco prevention and cessation programs, Maryland can accelerate progress in reducing tobacco use and improve the state’s health for generations to come. Ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products is another critical action the state must take.