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News Opinion Readers Respond

Tobacco tax is like speed cameras — a thinly-veiled money grab

Well, once again the editorial board at The Sun has jumped back in bed with Vincent DeMarco and his Maryland Citizens Health Initiative in supporting an additional $1 increase on Maryland's tax on cigarettes ("A life-saving tax," Nov. 26). As usual, we get the argument that hundreds of thousands of people die each year from smoking, and if we just raise that tax another dollar per pack, then people will finally kick the habit, etc. And let's not forget how the new higher price will discourage "the children" from smoking in the first place because we all know when they doubled the tax to $2 in 2007 virtually all the teenagers stopped smoking ( at least that's what they told us would happen back then).

Why, there's even a survey out that says 60 percent of Americans think higher taxes on cigarettes make sense to dissuade people from lighting up (although I wonder how many smokers were part of that survey).

Well, It's so nice to know that The Sun has my back and is looking out for me and the rest of the uninformed population of this state. That being said, I'm not an advocate of smoking. In fact, I don't smoke and have never smoked. I think it's a disgusting habit. But I find the hypocrisy of The Sun on this issue even more disturbing.

For the last two weeks, The Sun has been running a series on the speed camera program that has been highly critical of Baltimore City and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's loose interpretation of locations for the cameras, and I applaud you for pointing out the obvious money grab that these cameras represent in spite of all the phony-baloney reasons slithering out from City Hall.

Yet just when I think The Sun is starting to get some journalistic integrity, you go ahead and support this tax, which is same kind of money grab as the camera system, albeit with a different villain (evil smokers as opposed to evil speeders). If The Sun really cared about me and the rest of the unwashed masses, the board would push for a complete ban on smoking. But wait a minute, you can't do that because the state needs all that cigarette tax money for the budget. If we banned smoking, nobody would pay the tax.

So the real message is just go about your business, keep on smoking, and pay this new tax. Chances are there will be another $1 increase in five years — if you're still alive to pay it. Remember, it's for "the children."

Mark Wilson, Fallston

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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