Julius Henson fired back at criticism of his stance on a proposed increase to the state’s $2 per pack cigarette tax.
Henson, who is challenging five-term incumbent Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden in the Democratic Primary, said in a video posted on YouTube that the radio and mail campaign “a desperate effort by my opponent to make something up.”
Henson’s 2 minute statement was released in response to radio ads and mailers sent to voters in the 45th District. The campaign, paid for by Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, is meant to highlight the difference between McFadden, who signed a pledge to back a tobacco tax increase, and Henson, who didn’t sign the pledge according to the group.
The anti-smoking group successfully lobbied in 2008 to increase the per pack tax on cigarettes from $1 to $2. Vincent DeMarco, president of the group, said earlier this year that his organization was soliciting support for another $1 increase as well as increasing taxes on other tobacco products.
The group released ads this week targeting Henson for opposing the tax. It’s the only legislative race in which Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative is spending money or such commercials.
Henson said he is not in favor of smoking or tobacco use.
“Everyone with common sense, including me, we’re against people smoking cigarettes,” Henson said, adding that he is also against smoking marijuana.
“The heart of this matter is whether or not the people who are addicted to tobacco and nicotine, should they be taxed again,” Henson said. “My position is I’m against all taxed and fees and that includes cigarette tax.”
Henson said taxes on those products should be levied on the manufacturers or retailers not the product and criticized McFadden for favoring tobacco and other taxes.
“My opponent has voted for every tax you can think of,” Henson said in the video. “You name ’em. Did they do sunshine yet? Ok, that’s coming next year if he has his way. Bottle, bag, rain, gas tax. You name it. My opponent is for them all.”