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Oral cancer survivor pushes smokeless tobacco tax

Tuesday - 3/20/2012, 1:12pm  ET

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Gruen Von Behrens, a 25-year-old who believes chewing tobacco caused him to develop oral cancer, is asking Maryland lawmakers to raise taxes on smokeless tobacco and small cigars.

Von Behrens, who developed squamous cell carcinoma at age 17 and advocates against tobacco use, has had dozens of disfiguring surgeries including one to remove half his neck muscles, lymph nodes and one-third of his tongue.

He will speak at a news conference in Annapolis on Tuesday.

Lawmakers are hashing out a proposal to increase the taxes on cigars and smokeless tobacco. The state Senate has already approved changes to the tax rate and the House of Delegates is set to vote on additional adjustments.

Advocates say a tax hike will deter children from using tobacco.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)