The state tax on cigarettes would double to $4 for a pack under a measure recommended by the majority of the legislature’s Taxation Committee.

The measure would increase the taxes on all tobacco products as well as cigarettes, and direct some of the $17 million in annual revenue to fully fund the state’s tobacco cessation programs. Supporters, including Democratic state representative Lori Gramlich of Old Orchard Beach claim higher taxes will result in fewer smokers.

State law mandates that when cigarette taxes are increased, taxes on all other tobacco products, including moist snuff and vapor products must also be increased by the same percentage.  So, the increase in the cigarette tax means the taxes on both moist snuff (oral tobacco) and vapor products are also doubled. This makes the tax on all e-cigarette or vapor products 86 percent of their wholesale cost: the second highest tax on nicotine vapor products in the country.

Opponents argue that raising the tax on tobacco will not discourage use, but will likely create a black market for tobacco products in Maine. A 100 percent increase in taxes on all tobacco products could drive smuggling of cigarettes into Maine. New Hampshire, reaps tens of millions of dollars in tobacco tax revenues from cigarettes purchased there and carried to neighboring states.  If LD 1423 becomes law, the disparity in the price of a pack of cigarettes in Maine versus New Hampshire will be more than $2 per pack.

Megan Diver

Megan has worked in Maine politics for more than ten years and all of her professional career, having served in many roles for elected officials (including former Secretary of State Charlie Summers), in-house with the Maine Association of REALTORS®, legislative specialist at Pierce Atwood LLP providing lobbying services and support to Pierce Atwood’s government relations clients and most recently senior government relations specialist at the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. Megan currently is the Vice President at the Maine Energy Marketers Association, utilizing her vast knowledge and legislative experience at the State House to represent MEMA on policies relating to the Association and its members.