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BALTIMORE -- Maryland's House Ways and Means Committee voted on Monday to approve tax hikes on several tobacco products, reported the Baltimore Business Journal. It supported the Senate's approved 55-percent tax hike on cigarillos, but did not go along with the Senate's recommendations on other items.
The committee approved a 50 percent tax rate on smokeless tobacco and upheld the current 15 percent tax rate on premium cigars. Last week the Senate voted to raise wholesale tax rates to 70 percent for cigarillos and 20 percent for smokeless tobacco and premium cigars, according to the report.
Gov. Martin O'Malley previously suggested a 70 percent tax rate for all three products, comparable to the tax rate for cigarettes. The conference committee set to merge the House and Senate votes could still choose the higher rate.
"What the House passed is a great public health victory and will save the lives of thousands of Maryland young people," said Vincent DeMarco, president of the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative, which supported the bill. "But, we strongly urge the General Assembly to raise the tax on smokeless tax to 70 percent of wholesale to save as many lives as we can."