Community and faith leaders pushing for increase in tobacco tax

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Taking more money out of your pocket, continues to be the talk in Annapolis.

So far, there has been talk about increasing the income tax, and what items are taxable for state taxes, and today talk turned to the cigarette tax.

Community and faith leaders gathered in Annapolis to push for more taxes on smoking products.

Maryland already had a cigarette increase a few years ago, now they want to include cigars and chewing tobacco.

The proposed increase would be as much a dollar or more per pack on cigarettes, and an increase from 15 to 66 percent on other tobacco products.

But it may not be a good time for Francis Keller.

His tobacco shop is in the shadow of the State House and he says taxes are already too much of a burden on his business.

"Take a look at this bill.  I just had a delivery for $922, of that, $405 is taxes from the fed and state."

"If they raise it again, it will put me out of business."

Dwight Wilcox has been coming to the smoke shop for many years now.

If taxes go up in Maryland, he says it wont make him quit, it will just make him change his habits.

"I'll travel by car, go on the internet, or just have friends out of state, bring them to me."

Those pushing for the tax say it's about health more than raising money.

"Every time prices go up, teen smoking goes down.  Every time taxes rise, people who have been using tobacco products stop using it."

Bishop Douglas Miles says, "they already squeezed blood from a stone already.  It's not as if there's more to get."


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