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Maine Legislature's Taxation Committee Supports Tobacco Tax Increase

Cigarette smoking continues to decline as taxes on tobacco rise.
Gerald Herbert
Cigarette smoking continues to decline as taxes on tobacco rise.

The state tax on cigarettes would double to $4 for a pack under a measure recommended by the majority of the legislature’s Taxation Committee.

The measure would increase the taxes on all tobacco products as well as cigarettes, and direct some of the $17 million in annual revenue to fully fund the state's tobacco cessation programs. Supporters, including Democratic state representative Lori Gramlich of Old Orchard Beach says higher taxes will result in fewer smokers.

“I would love to outlaw tobacco because it’s a terrible, terrible, terrible deadly addictive drug. I am fully in support of this bill,” Gramlich says.

But opponents argue that raising the tax on tobacco will not discourage use, but will likely create a black market for tobacco products in Maine.

"Grown men and women who are adult citizens in a free country have the right to choose here. It’s obvious that you can’t tax the use of it, you will never raise taxes high enough to get rid of it, but what you will do is create a black market,“ says Republican Rep. Jeff Hanley of Pittston.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.