Last week I sat in on a House Ways and Means Committee hearing in Annapolis and listened to testimony on a bill introduced by Montgomery County lawmakers, Del. Luedtke (D14), and Sen. Madeleno (D18). This bill would increase the tax on each pack of cigarettes one dollar from $2.00 to $3.00. I am against this bill, because I am against more taxes, especially on those which more heavily tax people with lower income.
Before I go on, let me say I never smoked myself. I never even put a cigarette to my lips. I DESPISE smoking. I cannot stand the smell. It leaves a dirty residue. It brings back bad memories for me. My father smoked and had lung cancer, though he died of pneumonia before the cancer could kill him. Until the day he died, he smoked three packs a day. As the price of cigarettes went up he would get angry, but would pay the price, even if my parents had to give up other things. He wanted to smoke, he had to smoke and no do-gooders were going to stop him! I believe this is the attitude of many habitual smokers.
While saying that this bill would discourage smoking, the argument on the other hand is that this tax would increase revenues to the state by millions. I don’t get it. If it does stop smokers from smoking then, we will lose all our revenue from tobacco. If we do get millions more in revenue, then it has done little to stop smoking, and we will be getting the revenue for the most part from people who can least afford it.
Almost everyone in this state lives about 45 minutes from another state where the price of cigarettes is lower. Were I a smoker, I would travel to those states to buy my cigarettes. If smokers do that, it’s a lose lose situation for Maryland. We lose all revenue from smoking and we do nothing to discourage smoking … but then … we would pick up a few bucks from gas tax.
See other comments on this bill at: