Unlimited Access. Try it Today! Your First 10 Days Always $0.99
News Opinion Readers Respond

Cigarette tax has saved lives; so would another raise in it

Contrary to Marc Kilmer's letter ("Don't enable Md.'s addiction to cigarette tax revenue," Dec. 6), Maryland's 2007 dollar-per-pack cigarette tax increase significantly reduced teen smoking and saved lives. Between 2008 when the law took effect and the next time a survey of teen smoking was taken in 2010, smoking among teens in Maryland dropped from 15.3 percent to 14.1 percent, saving thousands of Maryland young people from the horrors of tobacco addiction.

For a personal account of how this tax increase saved lives, Mr. Kilmer should read the commentary that appeared in The Sun several months ago written by the Rev. Fred Weimert, the board chair of the Central Maryland Ecumenical Council ("Cigarette taxes saved my kids' lives," Aug. 30). He wrote about how his two sons quit smoking because the tobacco tax increase raised the price of cigarettes. That is why the Central Maryland Ecumenical Council has joined the Maryland Association of Student Councils and over 500 other faith, community, labor, business, health care and education groups from across the state in endorsing the Healthy Maryland Initiative's proposed new dollar tobacco tax increase, which will save tens of thousands of more Marylanders from preventable tobacco caused death and illness.

The 2007 tobacco tax increase disparaged by Mr. Kilmer is also bringing in over $120 million per year in additional revenue to the state, which Gov. Martin O'Malley has used to expand health care coverage to over 100,000 lower income parents. This has brought Maryland from 34th in the nation in health care for lower income people to 14th, has kept many thousands of Marylanders healthy, and has reduced the hidden health care tax we all pay to cover the cost of hospitalization of the uninsured.

Like the tobacco industry, Mr. Kilmer raises the fear of Marylanders going to other states to buy cigarettes when tobacco taxes go up. The fact is that after the 2007 dollar tobacco tax increase, the reduction in cigarette sales in Maryland far outweighed any increase in tobacco sales in neighboring states that did not increase their tax. What happened was that fewer people, particularly fewer young people, smoked the deadly products.

Plainly, Maryland's past tobacco tax increases have been public health successes. That is why according to a recent poll by Opinion Works, 65 percent of Maryland voters support another dollar per pack tobacco tax increase. We urge Governor O'Malley and the General Assembly to enact this tax soon. It is good policy and good politics.

Vincent DeMarco, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative.

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts
  • Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
    Related Content
    • Taxing cigarettes saves lives
      Taxing cigarettes saves lives

      Our view: Perhaps the single most effective public health intervention Maryland could take would be to increase the cigarette tax

    • Don't enable Maryland's addiction to cigarette tax revenue

      We're almost a month away from another legislative session, so it was no surprise to read The Sun's editorial in favor of higher cigarette taxes ("A life-saving tax," Nov. 25). While lobbyists like Vinnie DeMarco prepare their annual push to punish smokers, the rationale to raise cigarette...

    • Md. shouldn't make the same mistake as New York in banning fracking
      Md. shouldn't make the same mistake as New York in banning fracking

      I live in Deposit in New York's Southern Tier and know first-hand how New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's decision to ban fracking has taken away our chance to transform our economically depressed communities into thriving ones ("New York bans fracking, citing health risks," Dec. 18).

    • O'Malley's evolving view of Hillary Clinton
      O'Malley's evolving view of Hillary Clinton

      Martin O'Malley says the Democrats should not crown Hillary Clinton as their candidate for president despite the fact he endorsed her in 2008 ("O'Malley: Democrats shouldn't coronate Hillary Clinton," March 29).

    • Md. Democrats offer ruinous agenda
      Md. Democrats offer ruinous agenda

      I wonder where the rulers in the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates are going to get the money to fund what Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller described as the Democratic agenda ("Senate panel rewrites Hogan's charter school law," March 26)? I guess they will do what they do every...

    • Don't shed tears for Bergdahl
      Don't shed tears for Bergdahl

      Your editorial regarding Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is typical of The Sun's liberal agenda ("Hero or traitor?" March 27). So much concern for the deserter, but nary a word about the six men who gave their lives trying to rescue him.

    Comments
    Loading