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Maine Governor Candidates Disagree on Cigarette Tax Increase

1 min readBy: Joseph Bishop-Henchman

Five candidates are vying for the job of Governor of Maine, and in a debate last week the question of increasing the state cigarette taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. came up. Maine’s current cigarette excise taxAn excise tax is a tax imposed on a specific good or activity. Excise taxes are commonly levied on cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, soda, gasoline, insurance premiums, amusement activities, and betting, and typically make up a relatively small and volatile portion of state and local and, to a lesser extent, federal tax collections. of $2 per pack puts the state in the top ten cigarette tax rates. The Republican and Democratic candidates opposed an increase while three independent candidates supported one.

Republican Paul LePage, invoking Mrs. Lovejoy:

“Well, obviously, I would not support increasing taxes on tobacco products,” LePage said. “The one thing that we have to remember is those who are addicted, and having come from the welfare environment, I know what happens when you raise taxes on tobacco products: What happens is they get their cigarettes, one way or another, and who suffers but the kids.”

Democrat Libby Mitchell:

“In this very difficult economic environment, even though there is a correlation between the cost of tobacco and youth smoking, I would not be in favor of raising the tobacco tax at this point,” Mitchell said. “I would be in favor of finding other avenues of dealing with the youth smoking epidemic.”

Independent Eliot Cutler, who apparently prefers narrow, high taxes:

“Raising taxes on cigarettes is not a broad-based tax and clearly is an effective strategy and I think it’s one we need to think about,” he said, adding that anti-smoking education should be increased before looking to raise taxes.

Two other independent candidates also supported an increase.

More on Maine here.