Tobacco taxes save lives

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Raise the tobacco tax to save lives

Dear [Decision Maker],

I stand with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) in strong support of HB 273. We urge you to vote "favorably" on this life-saving legislation to increase the tax on cigarettes by $2.00 per pack and increase the tax on all other tobacco products, including electronic smoking devices to 86% of wholesale to prevent kids from starting to use tobacco and help adults quit.

In 2020, it is estimated that approximately 34,710 Maryland residents will be diagnosed with cancer while 10,790 will die from the disease. 27.3% of cancer deaths in Maryland are attributable to smoking. Here in Maryland 18.2% of adults use tobacco products. Tobacco product use among youth is much too high, 5.0% of Maryland high school students smoke cigarettes, 6.0% smoke cigars, 4.6% use smokeless tobacco, and 23% use electronic smoking devices.

The good news is that a cigarette tax increase of $2.00 per pack with parity on all other tobacco products, including electronic smoking devices at 86% wholesale as contained in SB 3 will result in a significant price increase, providing a strong antidote to the aggressive marketing tactics being employed by tobacco companies. In Maryland, tobacco manufacturers are currently spending $126.2 million each year to market their deadly and addictive products to our state's most vulnerable populations.

Many people in Maryland lack adequate tobacco cessation resources, and these problems can undermine the positive outcomes that would otherwise result from this tax. For this reason, HB 273 provides $21 million dollars to the state's comprehensive tobacco control program to help support the cessation goals of this policy. Strengthening prevention and cessation resources in the state is particularly important so that all population segments can receive help in trying to successfully quit, or avoid starting tobacco use altogether, regardless of income or other social determinants.

Again, I urge you to vote "favorably" on HB 273 to increase the cigarette tax by $2.00 per pack and increase the tax on all other tobacco products to 86% of wholesale because your action is needed now to prevent the start of youth tobacco use--and to help put an end to the devastation that tobacco continues to inflict on Maryland children and families.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]
[Your Email]