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Maryland Tobacco Tax Increase Is a Big Win for Kids and Health; State Must Now End Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
February 12, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC – The Maryland legislature today delivered a resounding victory for kids and health by overriding the governor’s veto and enacting 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. We hope this action provides momentum for Maryland to soon end the sale of all flavored tobacco products, which is another critical step to stop tobacco companies from targeting and addicting kids.

Cigarette smoking damages nearly every organ in the human body and greatly harms overall health, including by increasing risk of respiratory infections. 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 new law also increases taxes on various other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and 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. Such action is especially critical given the growing evidence about the impact of smoking and vaping on COVID-19.

We strongly urge the legislature to finish its work on flavored tobacco products and end the sale of all flavored e-cigarettes, flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes.

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, 12.7% of adults and 5% of high school students still smoke cigarettes, and 23% of Maryland high school students currently use e-cigarettes. By increasing tobacco taxes 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.