Vincent DeMarco, head of the Maryland Health Care For All! Coalition and the man who brought you the state's recently raised alcohol tax, lavished praise on the governor’s proposal to raise the tax on tobacco products other than cigarettes.
DeMarco said cigars, smokeless tobacco and pipe tobacco are currently taxed at 15 percent of the wholesale price, while the $2-a-pack tax on cigarettes amounts to a 66 percent tax. Raising the tax on other products to the 66 percent sought by O’Malley would discourage young people from using tobacco products, particularly cigars, that have grown in popularity as cigarette taxes have increased.
“That’s where we’re going to save lives,” DeMarco said, who had advocated the increase before the governor adopted it as his own.
As an example, DeMarco pointed to a cigarillo called the Black & Tan Plastic Tip that he said was popular among young smokers. One now costs $1.49, DeMarco said, but would rise to $2.15 with the tax increase – a rate he predicted would cut use by one-third.
Neither DeMarco nor O'Malley should get their hopes too high. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller has signaled that he does not like the idea at all, and ideas Miller dislikes have a hard time becoming Maryland law.