Bill seeks to raise cigarette tax by $1.50

Posted April 27, 2011, at 12:10 p.m.
Last modified April 28, 2011, at 10:58 a.m.
A woman smokes a cigarette outside a smoke shop in Lewiston in 2007. The Maine Legislature is considering a bill to raise taxes on cigarettes.
AP
A woman smokes a cigarette outside a smoke shop in Lewiston in 2007. The Maine Legislature is considering a bill to raise taxes on cigarettes.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A bill to increase Maine’s cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack to $3.50 has encountered opposition in the State House from convenience stores, grocers and other businesses that deal with tobacco.

The Taxation Committee on Wednesday took up a bill supporters see as a way to help discourage young people from smoking. Money from the tax increase would help fund the operation of a tobacco help line.

The American Lung Association of Maine says that when Maine raised its cigarette tax by $1 per pack, an unprecedented number of people called the help line.

But groups representing convenience stores and tobacco dealers say they worry about the negative impact higher taxes will have on their businesses. They also say the higher taxes will send cigarette buyers to New Hampshire.

The bill is sponsored by Democratic Rep. Elspeth Flemings of Bar Harbor.

 

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