HEALTH

Should Maryland raise the cigarette tax?

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Raising the price on a pack of cigarettes by a dollar is a concept that has some people smoking.

Currently, Maryland has the country's 11th highest cigarette tax. The proposal to increase the price would put the state in the top five.

Supporters say the increase is necessary to keep the state healthy.

“This is a public health revenue matter,” said Vincent DeMarco of Health Care for All. “It saves lives and brings in money for critical health care needs and saves the state hundreds of millions in health care costs.”

The last time Maryland raised the tax on cigarettes was back in 2007. Advocates say it led to a 32 percent decline in the number of adult smokers.

Virginia has a 30 cent tax per pack while Washington charges $2.50 and Maryland charged $2.

A three dollar per pack tax would be nearly twice the national average and ten times Virginia's tax rate.

“I think it's wrong that they should charge that much for it,” said Patrick Deppner, a smoker. “It's unfair to the people who smoke.”

Yet opinions on whether the tax should be raised are mixed.

“It's an indirect help to deter people,” said Kelly Wilcox, a non-smoker. “If it's going to go up to $8 or $9 now you're gonna think twice about trying to smoke so it's actually a good effect.”

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