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Health Coalition To Call For $1 Tobacco Tax Hike

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Pat Warren joined the Eyewitness News team in 1992. Pat came to WJZ...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Thursday is the Great American Smokeout and, in case you need incentive, there’s a campaign to raise the cigarette tax next year.

Political reporter Pat Warren explains what they’re asking.

“We are very pleased today to be announcing a new campaign to increase Maryland’s cigarette tax by another dollar a pack,” said an official.

Health Care For All wants the General Assembly to raise the cigarette a dollar a pack next year and use the money to fund health care. It’s a strategy that worked in 2007.

“I’ve been trying to quit now but I think this is it. This is the push that I need ’cause this is ridiculous,” said one woman.

Since previous tax hikes, the smoking rate has dropped among Maryland adults at twice the rate of the national average. Another study claims an additional dollar a pack could reduce smoking among young people by 11 percent, prevent 25,000 smoking addictions and save 14,000 lives.

“Everyone in my family except for my parents smoked at one point but now they’ve all quit cold turkey,” said Devan Ogburn.

But there is opposition to the tax. Lis Cawley is a smoker.

“It’s a person’s decision whether or not they want to smoke and it’s not the government’s right to tell me you’re not going to smoke and we’re going to raise it a dollar so you don’t continue doing that,” Cawley said.

The group has no legislative sponsor yet but fully expects lawmakers to climb aboard.

Maryland has the 11th highest cigarette tax rate in the country.

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