A move to increase Maryland’s cigarette tax by $1 per pack is already gaining momentum for the 2015 Maryland General Assembly session after failing to get enough support from state lawmakers earlier this year.

On Wednesday, a coalition of health care advocates claimed to have signed up more than 200 candidates running for state office this year who pledged their support to raise the cigarette tax by a buck. That’s enough signatures, they say, to almost virtually ensure the tax hike will be approved next year.

And our prediction is that it probably will — particularly since the general election will be over. Lawmakers have four years to explain why they supported a tax hike that critics say is regressive and hits lower-income Marylanders who can afford it the least.

The simple solution for critics opposing the tax increase is to quit smoking. We know that nicotine is addictive and it’s not easy for some to kick the habit. Still, and not to be cold about this, but those who can’t or won’t quit shouldn’t complain about how much it’s costing them to fill their lungs with toxic smoke that medical studies have concluded can cause serious health problems — lung cancer, heart disease, strokes, brain tumors, lymphoma, leukemia and emphysema, among other things.

We favor higher taxes on cigarettes because we’re convinced there is enough evidence to show it leads to lower smoking rates by encouraging more people to seek help in quitting the deadly, and increasingly expensive, habit. Lower smoking rates also reduce the probability of health problems, which in turn lowers insurance rates and health care costs for everyone.

Maryland’s cigarette tax now stands at $2 per pack — the 12th-highest in the country. In case you’re wondering, New York has the highest rate at $4.35 per pack, which, combined with the federal cigarette tax rate of $1.01, means the total tax is $5.36 per pack before any costs, sales taxes or profits are factored in. Missouri’s state tax is lowest at 17 cents per pack.

Locally, among those lawmakers who signed the pledge with the Maryland Citizens Health Initiative is Sen. Ron Young, D-District 3, and his wife, Karen Young, a Democrat, who is running for a District 3A seat in the House of Delegates.

Among those opposing the tax are Corey Stottlemyer, a Republican challenging Ron Young for the District 3 seat, and state Sen. David Brinkley, a Republican who is running for re-election in District 4.

Stottlemyer told News-Post reporter Bethany Rodgers in a story published Thursday that he opposed the tax hike because it’s a regressive tax that hurts low-income families who tend to smoke more. Brinkley said he worries the tax will hurt local retailers without doing much to reduce smoking rates.

It’s true that, if approved, Maryland’s cigarette tax rate will be the sixth-highest nationally and the highest of any state that borders it. Comparably, Virginia’s tax rate is 30 cents per pack, West Virginia’s is 55 cents, Pennsylvania’s is $1.60 and the District of Columbia’s is $2.50.

So yes, Brinkley is probably right that some Frederick County retailers could be hurt financially because for those wanting to stock up on their smokes, it’s a quick drive into Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia from most parts of the county.

But if retailers are banking their livelihood on selling a product that has been medically proven to cause serious health issues, including death, then that’s the risk they take. It’s our hope a combination of both raising the cigarette excise tax and educating users on the health risks will eventually lower the smoking rate to more acceptable levels. A tax increase is just another step in that direction.

(32) comments

Comment deleted.

You must be under 25 rzak or you would remember when Republicans complained bitterly about the Dems killing Gov. Erhlich's idea to bring casino gambling to MD only to enact it themselves after MOM became guv. Casino gambling in MD = Republican idea. Now what were you saying about it destroying families?


Raising taxes on cigarettes has not and will not deter smoking. I'd like to know why they think people have quit due to the high price (taxes). I mean....I haven't met even one person who said they quit because they couldn't afford it. Most people I know do not and will not buy cigarettes in MD. They go out of state....Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia....to buy their smokes. All MD is doing with adding more tax is making sure that these neighbor states rake in all those tax dollars. Don't make the mistake of thinking that people are quitting just becuase cigarette sales have gone down in MD. After all, I can quarantee you that cigarette sales have soared in Virginia and West Virginia.


Correct. it's not about getting people to quit just like red light cameras are not about safety... Both are about money, plain and simple.... otherwise they would be doing things to help people quit not just milk them because they have an addition problem...

jill king

Corey Stottlemyer and Senator Brinkley are correct.

The money will never make it to education, just like Raven's stadium and Slots.

Maybe we could compare it to the raises in costs for MVA functions. Where is the money for roads?


This will be a tax on young 'cause that is when they start. http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/about-smoking/preventing-smoking/why-kids-start.html


Healthcare costs from the side-effects of smoking are astronomical...not only financially, but health wise, also. Let us use the additional tax monies that are generated to educate, as well as to treat health problems, instead of the rest of us stuck with paying higher and higher health insurance premiums because of those who either refuse or can't quit smoking:

Some of the latest facts and figures from the American Cancer Society:

"Tobacco-Related Cancers Fact Sheet

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States for both men and women. (Source: Cancer Facts & Figures 2014)

Lung cancer is the most preventable form of cancer death in the world. (Source: Cancer Facts & Figures 2014)

Lung cancer estimates for 2014 (Source: Cancer Facts & Figures 2014):

New cases of lung cancer: 224,210
Males: 116,000
Females: 108,210

Deaths from lung cancer: 159,260
Males: 86,930
Females: 72,330

Women smokers are 25.7 times more likely than women who never smoked to develop lung cancer. For men smokers, it’s 25 times the risk of men who never smoked. (Source: US Surgeon General Report 2014)

Besides lung cancer, tobacco use also increases the risk for cancers of the mouth, lips, nose and sinuses, larynx (voice box), pharynx (throat), esophagus (swallowing tube), stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, uterus, cervix, colon/rectum, ovary (mucinous), and acute myeloid leukemia. (Source: Cancer Facts & Figures 2014)

In the United States, tobacco use is responsible for nearly 1 in 5 deaths; this equals about 480,000 early deaths each year. (Source: Cancer Facts & Figures 2014; and US Surgeon General Report 2014)

Tobacco use accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths, causing 87% of lung cancer deaths in men, and 70% of lung cancer deaths in women. (Source: Cancer Facts & Figures 2014)

Cigarette use has declined dramatically since the release of the first US Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health in 1964. Even so, about 20.5% of men and 15.8% of women still smoked cigarettes in 2012, with about 78% of these people smoking daily. (Source: CDC, Current cigarette smoking among adults – United States, 2005–2012, 2014)

Cigarette smoking among adults age 18 and older who smoked 30 cigarettes or more a day went down significantly from 2005 to 2012 – from 12.6% to 7.0%. But still, more than 42 million American adults smoke cigarettes. (Source: CDC, Current cigarette smoking among adults – United States, 2005–2012, 2014)

Cigars contain many of the same carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) found in cigarettes. Between 2000 and 2011, sales of small cigars had decreased by 65%, while large cigar sales increased 233%. (Note: the definition of large cigar changed in 2009, so that much smaller cigars are legally defined as “large cigars.”) Cigar smoking causes cancers of the lung, mouth, throat, larynx (voice box), esophagus (swallowing tube), and probably the pancreas. (Source: CDC, Consumption of Cigarettes and Combustible Tobacco – United States, 2000–2011, 2012; Office of the Inspector General, Dept. of the Treasury Audit Report, December 21, 2011)

Little cigars are about the same size and shape as cigarettes and come in packs of 20, but unlike cigarettes, they can be candy or fruit flavored. In most states, they cost much less than cigarettes, making them far more affordable – especially to youth. A 2012 CDC survey found that more high school boys had smoked cigars (16.7%) than smoked cigarettes (16.3%) in the past 30 days. About 8% of high school girls had smoked a cigar in the past month. (Sources: Cancer Facts & Figures 2014; CDC, Tobacco Product Use Among Middle and High School Students – United States, 2011 and 2012, 2013)

Among first-time tobacco users, nearly 2.7 million smoked cigars, while 2.3 million smoked cigarettes (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2013)
In 1997, nearly half (48%) of male high school students and more than one-third (36%) of female students reported using some form of tobacco – cigarettes, cigars, or smokeless tobacco – in the past month. This went down to 23% for male students and 18% for female students in 2012, and included electronic cigarettes, snus (a type of smokeless tobacco), dissolvable tobacco, and other types that weren’t even around in 1997 – along with cigars, cigarettes, and older types of tobacco. (Sources: Cancer Facts & Figures 2010; CDC, Tobacco Product Use Among Middle and High School Students – United States, 2011 and 2012, 2013)

Each year, about 3,400 non-smoking adults die of lung cancer as a result of breathing secondhand smoke. Each year secondhand smoke also causes about 42,000 deaths from heart disease in people who are not current smokers. (Source: Cancer Facts & Figures 2014)

Among adults age 18 and older, about 20% of men and 3% of women have ever used smokeless tobacco. Nationwide, about 11% of US male high school students and about 2% of female high school students were using chewing tobacco, snuff, or dip in 2012. (Sources: Cancer Facts & Figures 2014)

Smokeless tobacco products are a major source of cancer-causing nitrosamines and a known cause of human cancer. They increase the risk of developing cancer of the mouth and throat, esophagus (swallowing tube), and pancreas. Smokeless tobacco kills fewer people than smoking, but using any form of tobacco harms health and can cause death. (Source: Cancer Prevention & Early Detection Facts and Figures 2010)

Between 2009 and 2012 smoking-attributable economic costs were between $289 and $332.5 billion each year in the United States, including $132.5 to 175.9 billion for direct medical care of adults. (Source: US Surgeon General Report 2014)

Last Medical Review: 02/21/2014
Last Revised: 02/21/2014



You are addressing the wrong problem. Change the system so if someone is stupid enough to smoke it's their problem

Extra Ignored

This will be a tax on the poor because smoking decreases as income increases. When you have more money you can engage in other forms of recreation.



How convenient. The state orders an increase in the minimum wage and then
wants to raise the tax on cigarettes. Won't the increase in the minimu wage allow
more people to smoke? I betcha they never considered that side of it.

NY has found the amount of non/low-taxed cigarettes dramatically increased
along with increases in cigarette taxes. Soon, cigarette smokers will be the
outlaws and marijuana smokers wil be the "inlaws".

I know, you are wondering if I am the one who is smoking the funny cigarettes. Of course MD will pass high taxes on the newly legal marijuana too.

Raising taxes on cigarettes will curtail the number of new smokers and get current smokers to quit. But only to a small degree. If a person is willing to risk a number
of terrible health consequences caused by smoking, tax increases will lose thei
aility to effectconsumption.

I worry when I see the government flex its muscle to control undesirable, but legal, activities. Recently we learned how the federal government is using financial
pressure against certain industries it considers undesirable. They can't do their important jobs (border security, medical care) but they seem to find a way to tell us
how to run our lives.

Extra Ignored

Making something legal does not eliminate the black market.


Comment deleted.

Remember when states began legalizing the numbers racket, errr, I mean the state lotteries? It was to eliminate the illegal gambling and fund our schools. Now, the states are in a race to provide the most gambling.

Full legalization for marijuana is coming. You can count on that and on
the taxes that will go along with it.

The state has a voracious appetite for tax dollars and will pick on the "undesirables" for now. But eventually we will all fall into that category in one way or another.

The taxpayers are slowly being boiled, but some are slow to realize it.

Extra Ignored

My mother would turn off the heat in her house to buy cigarettes.

If she lived in a sunshine state that wouldn't be so bad.

But you can freeze to death in these temperatures.

Cigarettes are that addictive.


Yes, the nicotine in cigarettes is very addictive to most smokers; every bit as addictive as heroin is to addicts who can't kick their habit. I've known of individuals who suffer from emphysema, and tried, but could not stop smoking, not even when they were advised by their doctors that quitting smoking would help to extend their lives a bit. Instead, they would turn off their oxygen machines, hobble out of the room to have a cigarette, then return to their oxygen machines. It's a horrible way to live and die. Very sad situation.

Extra Ignored

Hypotherma kills too. Faster than emphysema.

Some elderly might not buy medication they need so they can afford cigarettes.

Comment deleted.

Agree. Its always been about the money. Keep on burying your head LTE if you think it's about anything more.


and while your at it change the state motto from "The Free State" to "The Fee State".


Cigarettes, lawns, rain, food, gas, clothes, utilities, roads, homes, income, cars, alcohol is there anything Maryland won't tax. 95% of the Maryland taxes hurt the poor, the people they say they care about the most. Hypocrites!




Another dollar a pack won't hurt those who can afford this dirty and dangerous habit.

And another dollar a pack might be enough to convince those who can't afford it to quit. Imagine having $20. or $30. dollars more in your wallet at the end of the week? Not to mention being able to taste food again, and not exposing your children to second hand smoke.


Digging that head a little further into the sand are you? You honestly think it's about our health?


A tax now and attacks later. If the tax bothers you, stop smoking.




The incremental tax revenue should be used to combat 4th and 5th hand smoke issues. It for the children after all


Taxing behavior will only decrease revenue and sends more business out of state




Go ahead raise the price per pack, and while you are at it say good bye to the tax revenue. When will the idiots in charge in MD understand that people will look for other outlets to buy what they need?




what's it your business what other people do if they're following the law? why punish a small segment of society for legal activity?


Dropping the price of cigarettes will increase tax revenues and shorten the life of takers.


I suppose your vision of "takers" is the segment of our society that takes 98% of the wealth.


Two points:

1-Prohibition did not prevent drinking. It just created a huge black market.

2-I have no doubt Maryland is in line to be the next state to legalize marijuana.

jill king

Good to see you again. :)

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