Over the past few weeks, three Republican governors — Sam Brownback of Kansas, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Mark Sandoval of Nevada — signed into law substantial tobacco tax increases passed by their overwhelmingly Republican legislatures. We hope that this will show Maryland's Republican Governor and Democratic General Assembly that tobacco tax increases are truly nonpartisan public health revenue measures.
Our Healthy Maryland Initiative Coalition of over 750 faith, community, health care, labor and business groups from across Maryland is seeking the same one dollar per pack cigarette tax increase which was enacted this year in Republican dominated Nevada. The evidence shows that Maryland's past tobacco tax increases have saved tens of thousands of lives by significantly reducing smoking in our state, particularly among young people, and that another dollar per pack increase would save thousands more young Marylanders from the tragedy of tobacco addiction. And polling shows that Maryland voters — Democrats, Republicans and independents — overwhelmingly support increasing the state tobacco tax by one dollar per pack. This is both good policy and good politics.
The Republican governors and legislatures of Nevada, Kansas and Louisiana should inspire Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and our Democratic General Assembly to work together to save many lives from tobacco in our state as well enacting a dollar increase in the Maryland tobacco tax in 2016.
Vincent DeMarco, Baltimore
The writer is president of the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative.