- Maryland House Gives Preliminary
Approval To $1 Cigarette Tax Increase
- The Maryland House of Delegates gave preliminary approval
yesterday, March 25, 1999, to a proposal to raise the state's cigarette tax by
$1 per pack. "This is a great victory for the children of
Maryland," said Vincent DeMarco, executive director of the
Maryland Children's Initiative.
"The House of Delegates stood
up to the tobacco lobby and defeated all attempts to weaken or
kill the bill." Final House approval could come this week.
bill would then move to the Senate, where Senate President
Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. is strongly opposed to a tax increase.
The chair of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, Sen.
Barbara Hoffman (D), said that some form of a tax increase will
pass her committee, and the bill's sponsor, Sen. Chris Van
Hollen Jr., said, "I'm optimistic we'll get a healthy tax out
of the committee."
- WASHINGTON POST, (3/25/99) "Cigarette Tax Increase Moves Forward In Md.", Robert Pierre, p. B1
- Excerpted from the AP
- March 25, 1999: The Maine Senate followed the lead of the House and voted
Wednesday to outlaw all smoking in Maine restaurants.
The Senate voted 26-6 in favor of 100% smokefree restaurants. The House voted 100-48. "The only
loser in this kind of legislation is the tobacco industry," said Dr. Dora Mills, the state's health
director. Mills left the door open to expanding the ban in the future to pool halls and taverns.
Supporters of the ban have framed their proposal as a restaurant worker health issue, saying
44,000 waiters, waitresses, cooks and other workers face a daily hazard of secondhand smoke.
Sen. Philip Harriman, R-Yarmouth, questioned why the ban did not extend to taverns so
all workers would be protected, and suggested an amendment to that effect would be presented. "If we
have a health menace in the workplace, we ought to treat all workers the same," said Harriman.
Judy Paradis, Senate chairwoman of the Health and Human Services Committee, explained
why supporters did not seek smokefree taverns. "We're taking a half loaf instead of a full loaf,"
said Paradis, whose committee narrowly endorsed the bill.
As the bill came up for debate, the Maine Restaurant Association said a survey
showed that 73 percent of Maine's restaurant owners believe they should have the option of
ventilating their buildings, and half think they will lose customers if smoking is banned.
The restaurant group said the poll, conducted March 20-21 by Strategic Marketing Services
of Portland, was funded in part by the Philip Morris Company.
- Tobacco Taxes Won't Hurt The Poor
- Robert Hess, president and chief executive officer of the Center
for Poverty Solutions, supports Maryland's proposed cigarette
tax and argues that the tax will benefit the poor -- a
constituency targeted by Big Tobacco for years.
"We cannot stand by while tobacco companies entice more low-income people
to buy a product that causes disease and death. The argument
that raising tobacco prices will hurt the poor and their
families is absurd. If we are really concerned about poor
Marylanders, let's raise the cigarette tax by $1 per pack, give
the poor access to smoking cessation services and spend the
eventual cost savings on programs that can effectively reduce
poverty and promote good health. Helping families overcome
poverty and its many related problems helps all of us."
- BALTIMORE SUN (on-line), (3/26/99) "Tax Big Tobacco", Robert Hess
1999 -- All Rights Reserved|