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Raising Maryland alcohol tax crucial to better health | READER COMMENTARY

Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson stands in the Senate Chamber at the Maryland State House. Plexiglass surrounds the work areas of those on the senate floor including desks of the 47 senators because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. The 442nd session of Maryland General Assembly opens January 13. January 8, 2021. Baltimore Sun photo.
Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson stands in the Senate Chamber at the Maryland State House. Plexiglass surrounds the work areas of those on the senate floor including desks of the 47 senators because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. The 442nd session of Maryland General Assembly opens January 13. January 8, 2021. Baltimore Sun photo. (Kim Hairston/The Baltimore Sun)

Everyone should have access to high-quality, affordable health care, no matter where they live.

Del. Jazz Lewis and the lead sponsors of the Health Equity Resource Communities legislation, Sen. Antonio Hayes and Del. Erek Barron, have identified this goal as the meaningful core of this important legislation. The Maryland Public Health Association would like to recognize Johns Hopkins, Attorney General Brian Frosh, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and County Executives Angela Alsobrooks of Prince George’s County, Calvin Ball of Howard County, Marc Elrich of Montgomery County, Johnny Olszewski Jr. of Baltimore County and Steuart Pittman of Anne Arundel County for publicly endorsing this legislation (“Maryland health equity initiative legislation includes increase in alcohol tax to 10%,” Jan 8).

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While Maryland is a leader in many health and public health initiatives, we still have longstanding inequities and disparities ingrained in our systems. This allows many of our communities to continue to lag behind in life expectancy, educational attainment, home ownership and numerous other indicators of a successful society.

It is also important to recognize the dedicated funding stream. The one penny alcohol sales tax increase guarantees that this program will be funded into the future and not subject to the budgetary chopping block. The benefits are twofold: sustainable funding to improve health in addition to saved lives by reducing underage drinking and drunk driving.

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MdPHA members have made enacting the Health Equity Resource Communities legislation one of our top priorities for the 2021 Maryland General Assembly session. We know how important this tool will be in promoting improved health and well-being for our communities most in need.

Raimee Eck and Erica Weiss, Columbia

The writers co-chair the Maryland Public Health Association’s public health advocacy committee.

Add your voice: Respond to this piece or other Sun content by submitting your own letter.

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