Advocates backing a $1 tax increase on every pack of cigarettes sold in Maryland say they've lined up more than 200 General Assembly candidates to support the hike.
The Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative has planned two news conferences for next week to announce what the group says is widespread support for a proposal to increase the tax from $2 to $3 per pack of cigarettes.
The group says the proposal is an attempt to reduce teen smoking and fund public health programs.
"We commend all of the candidates who have expressed their support for our life-saving dollar tobacco tax proposal," said Vincent DeMarco, president of the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative.
The first press conference will be at 11 a.m. at the office of the Maryland State Medical Society, MedChi, 1211 Cathedral St. in Baltimore and the second will be at 1:30 p.m. in the main lobby of Washington Adventist Hospital, 7600 Carroll Ave. in Takoma Park.
A prominent retail group expressed disappointment Thursday so many lawmakers had signed onto the idea without a full hearing.
"It is unfortunate that commitments have been made to impose a new tax without small businesses being given the opportunity to see a proposal and have their voices heard," said Ellen Valentino of the Mid-Atlantic Petroleum Distributors Association.