Cigarette Tax Debate 

(AP)-Members of the Appropriations and Taxation committees stayed late yesterday to hear diverse views on the proposal to increase from the state’s present tax of two dollars a pack.

The proposal also seeks higher taxes on smokeless and pipe tobacco and cigars.

Gena Canning of the Augusta-based Pine State Trading Company — a New England-wide wholesale distributor of food, beverages and cigarettes — says smokers are being asked to bear an unfair share of the tax burden.

Others questioned whether the tax will bring in the full 66 million dollars a year the Baldacci administration expects.

Health advocates say the taxes are needed to induce smokers to quit and discourage teenagers from starting at all.

The Maine Medical Association says each pack of cigarettes results in seven dollars in medical costs.

On Monday, health advocates said the dollar per pack Baldacci wants is not enough and suggested that the proposed tax be upped to a dollar-50.