By Jeremy Bauer-Wolf
Health affliction advocates are stoking the tax fires afresh with legislation that would accomplish Maryland’s tobacco taxes some of the accomplished in the country.
The Senate Account and Taxation Committee heard affidavit Wednesday on SB 589, which would access the tobacco tax amount from $2 for a backpack of cigarettes to $3. The bill additionally calls for abrupt backpack on all added tobacco articles — from 30% to 95% of the broad price.
Products afflicted would accommodate cigars, roll-your-own, and forms of smokeless tobacco.
The bill would accord Maryland the fourth accomplished tobacco tax ante in the nation. No. 1 is New York at $4.35 per backpack of cigarettes. (Cigarette smugglers nabbed by comptroller’s agents advancing through Maryland from 30 cents-a-pack Virginia are generally headed to New York.)
Maryland is currently ranked at 12th accomplished by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
The bill’s advance sponsor, Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell, a Baltimore Democrat, testified with Montgomery County Sen. Richard Madaleno, one of 18 added co-sponsors, that the action would advance the bloom of Marylanders, and that some of the acquirement generated by the new college tax ante could be funneled into tobacco apprenticeship programs.
The Department of Legislative Services estimated almost an added $110 actor from the increase.
“I anticipate this is what best states are activity to wind up accomplishing over the aing few years,” Madaleno said.
The bill additionally requires the admittance of $21 actor to the state’s Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Program alpha budgetary year 2016, an uptick from the allotted $10.6 actor in the proposed budgetary 2015 budget.
The Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Program attempts to abate tobacco use statewide, and after anticipate mortalities acquired by tobacco products. It is primarily adjourned by Maryland’s crumbling Cigarette Restitution Fund, gain from adjustment of a multi-state accusation that is parcelled out incrementally from some of the nation’s better tobacco companies to the states that filed suit.
Cross-border sales a worry
Republican Sen. Richard Colburn from the Middle Shore bidding apropos that his capacity from Caroline, Dorer, Talbot and Wicomico counties ability be tempted to appointment adjoining states with lower tax rates, including Delaware and Virginia.
“They can get cigarettes at a abundant cheaper cost, which ability animate smuggling,” Colburn said.
Delaware’s tax amount is $1.60 per pack, while Virginia’s can be as low as 30 cents per pack.
Vinny DeMarco, admiral of Maryland Citizens’ Bloom Initiative, said that there’s been a cogent abatement in the cardinal of smokers in Maryland — not aloof a abatement in the packs of cigarettes purchased in-state — decidedly back tobacco taxes were aloft significantly.
Maryland has apparent several tax increases over the years — in 1999 the amount jumped from 36 to 66 cents per pack, and in 2002 the amount added to $1 per pack. In 2007, the assembly angled the amount to $2 a pack.
Some argue tax hikes on smokeless tobacco
One of the bill’s opponents, Bill Godshall, is admiral of a nonprofit accumulation — Smokefree Pennsylvania — that Godshall said absolutely advocates for accretion cigarette tax rates.
Godshall said he wants the assembly to access the cigarette tax by an added $1 per pack, but adios the agreement apropos added tobacco products.
“Smokers who about-face to smokeless tobacco articles abate their ache risks about as abundant as smokers who abdicate all tobacco use,” he said during the hearing.
Ronald Ward, administrator for the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives, agreed with Godshall’s points, adage that his alignment suggests smoke-free tobacco articles for abiding smokers.
“Simply stated, smokeless tobacco articles are far beneath chancy alternatives to cigarettes, and accordingly, should not be subjected to crushing and castigating taxes,” Ward said in his testimony.
The House adaptation of the bill, HB 443, had its audition in the Ways and Means Committee Feb. 20.
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