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Health advocates will urge General Assembly candidates to take stances on tobacco tax hike

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ANNAPOLIS, Maryland — Health advocates are starting a campaign to make each General Assembly candidate take a stance on a proposal to raise the cigarette tax from $2 a pack to $3.

The Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative plans to send a letter to every candidate, asking them to sign a statement in support of the tax hike. The group will publish a list of the supporters before June's primary election.

Maryland has raised its cigarette tax three times since 1999, most recently in 2008. Adult smoking here declined by an estimated 32.1 percent between 1998 and 2010, compared to a national drop of 19.9 percent.

A bill to raise the tax again failed in legislative committees this year. Sen. Richard Madaleno, a Montgomery County Democrat, predicts that it will pass next year.

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