MARYLAND – Between 1998 and 2010, adult smoking rates across the state of Maryland declined by about 32%, around double the amount across the nation. However, a number of legislators and health officials across the state are pushing for more action.
"We've saved a lot of lives lets safe some more," says Vincent DeMarco, President of the Maryland Citizens Health Initiative. "We want to build on that progress."
The Maryland Citizens Health Initiative reports that 70,000 people were saved from preventable tobacco-related deaths between the 1998 and 2010 period as well. They credit three separate tobacco tax increases during that time for the major decline.
"There's been a huge drop and Maryland has made a lot of progress but now it's leveling off," says DeMarco. "We need to do more to keep this drop in smoking happening."
To do so, the group, along with more than 700 endorsers, is pushing for the "Healthy Maryland Initiative." The bill is set for a hearing in both the house and senate, and proposes a hike of the current $2.00 tax up to $3.00. If passed, the revenue will filter to various health improvements across the state, including community based initiatives that address childhood obesity and long-term care for seniors, along with improved access to healthcare for many families. Most importantly, it could mean $21 million for tobacco prevention programs, which had a $14 million funding cut in 2010.
"We had about 5 people in our program and now I'm the only one that teaches the classes," says Jennifer Johnson, with the Wicomico County Health Department. "They cut a lot, and the more they cut on the program there's less people we can help when it comes to the medications, the patches, and that kind of stuff."
Johnson says in many cases, the cost of quitting is sometimes more than the cost of cigarettes if people do it on their own. However, with more funding for their programs, the more they can provide the necessary materials for free.
"It's more advertising out there or more classes out there," says Johnson. "I think it's extremely important, people think there really isn't as much a problem anymore, but there really is."
According to the Maryland Citizens Health Initiative, after conducting a survey of 250 randomly-selected people on the Eastern Shore, officials found about 60 percent were in support of the proposal, including some current smokers.
DeMarco says despite the support, it will be difficult for the bill to pass, but the point is to create awareness.
"We need to make this an election issue," says DeMarco. "We feel that after this election cycle we'll be able to pass this measure in 2015."
For more on the Maryland Citizens Health Initiative, head over to their website.
Thursday, April 17 2014 8:27 PM EDT2014-04-18 00:27:28 GMT
SALISBURY, Md. - If you're looking for something to do this evening -- why not head out to the shorebirds game and learn how you can help battle hunger on the eastern shore ---with the 3rd annual StrikeMore >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 8:22 PM EDT2014-04-18 00:22:18 GMT
SALISBURY, Md. - Delmarva Shorebirds Starter Steven Brault takes home the win in Wednesday's series finale with the Hagerstown Suns. Brault gave up 2 earned runs on 7 hits, while striking out 7 in 6 completeMore >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 8:21 PM EDT2014-04-18 00:21:22 GMT
SALISBURY, Md. - A wild, back and fourth, game ended with a win for the Shorebirds Thursday night in their home opener.Delmarva trailed 4 to 2 when the Greensboro Grasshoppers had a meltdown, and the 'BirdsMore >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 8:01 PM EDT2014-04-18 00:01:30 GMT
PRINCESS ANNE, Md. - The University of Maryland Eastern Shore introduced Bobby Collins Wednesday as it's newest men's head basketball coach. Over the course of his 12-year career, Coach Collins has alreadyMore >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 7:10 PM EDT2014-04-17 23:10:00 GMT
WICOMICO CO., Md. - There's a possibility of cutbacks on school personnel after the county executive released his proposed budget for next year.Wicomico County Schools may not have enough money to keepMore >>
WICOMICO CO., Md. - There's a possibility of cutbacks on school personnel after the county executive released his proposed budget for next year.More >>
The WMDT 47 Teachers Who Make a Difference Contest is Sponsored by Accurate Optical: "Encouraging children of all ages to come in for an annual eye exam to help them see better in school." Each month weMore >>
The WMDT 47 "Teachers Who Make a Difference" Sponsored by Accurate Optical Encouraging children of all ages to come in for an annual eye exam to help them see better in school.More >>
The WMDT/Mountaire Better Delmarva Award is a monthly honor designed to highlight local individuals, businesses, civic organizations or classrooms who are going above and beyond in their effort to assist others in the community or to improve and protect the local environment. Each month a winner is chosen by a Mountaire selection committee from submitted nominations.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 5:46 PM EDT2014-04-16 21:46:47 GMT
DORCHESTER CO., Md. - Police are releasing more information after a large drug bust in Dorchester County on April 11th. During a press conference on Wednesday morning, Officials displayed approximatelyMore >>
DORCHESTER CO., Md. - Police are releasing more information after a large drug bust in Dorchester County on April 11th.More >>
Tuesday, April 15 2014 3:06 PM EDT2014-04-15 19:06:15 GMT
CAMBRIDGE, Md. - A Cambridge man was arrested on Friday, on multiple drug charges. The Dorchester County Narcotics Task Force searched a home on Moose Lodge Road, in Cambridge, and arrested Shannon Banks,More >>
CAMBRIDGE, Md. - A Cambridge man was arrested on Friday, on multiple drug charges.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 12:09 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:09:04 GMT
LITTLE CREEK, Del. - A fatal motor vehicle crash that also injured three people, is under investigation in Little Creek. Delaware State Police say the incident happened on Wednesday night, around 9:30More >>
LITTLE CREEK, Del. - A fatal motor vehicle crash that also injured three people, is under investigation in Little Creek.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 5:07 PM EDT2014-04-17 21:07:30 GMT
SALISBURY, Md. - Police have released new information from their investigation into a Wednesday morning home invasion in Salisbury, that left one man dead, and another injured. Maryland State Police sayMore >>
SALISBURY, Md. - Police have released new information from their investigation into a Wednesday morning home invasion in Salisbury, that left one man dead, and another injured.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 1:02 PM EDT2014-04-17 17:02:59 GMT
CAMBRIDGE, Md. - A Wednesday afternoon house fire in Cambridge is under investigation, after killing two dogs. The Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office says the blaze started around 3:45 PM in the firstMore >>
CAMBRIDGE, Md. - A Wednesday afternoon house fire in Cambridge is under investigation, after killing two dogs.More >>
WMDT's Emily Lampa sat down with the Wicomico County Sheriff's Department to review the Most Wanted individuals in the County. Starting Monday, November 4, we will air a four-party series on Wicomico'sMore >>
Have you seen these suspects? Click here to review the wanted individuals and find out who to contact with information. More >>