Maine Governor Candidates Disagree on Cigarette Tax Increase

September 21, 2010

Five candidates are vying for the job of Governor of Maine, and in a debate last week the question of increasing the state cigarette tax came up. Maine’s current cigarette excise tax 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.

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