Starting October 1, cigarettes, Juul, and vaping products will be considered “tobacco products” and in Maryland you’ll have to be at least 21 to buy them.
House Bill 1169 and it’s corresponding Senate Bill 895 will raise the smoking age in Maryland to 21. This bill will also reclassify all vape products and accessories as tobacco products, regardless of how much nicotine they contain.
Vaping has become a serious issue in schools where their popularity has increased in recent years.
Delegates explain their vote. “One of my biggest concerns, the reason I voted for the bill to move it to 21 is that it seems like Maryland might legalize marijuana for recreational use and when they do I don’t want any question at all that if that happens it will be 21,” Delegate Neil Parrott said, (R) Washington County.
“Research shows that of those who are addicted to tobacco and nicotine substances all started before age 21, so if we can keep people from starting using vaping and tobacco until after 21, odds are they wont start,” Delegate Ken Kerr said, (D) District 3B.
Under this bill, selling tobacco products without a license can result in fines up to $1,000. Licensed retailers who sell to people under 21 could face a $300 fine or up to $3,000 for repeat offenders.
Another concern is what tobacco companies are doing to target younger ages. “Tobacco products or vaping and right now they are targeting people who are younger like with cotton candy vaping and bright colors to invite them in,” Delegate Parrott said.
This bill also authorizes the Maryland Department of Health to use people younger than 21 to conduct inspections of any tobacco retailer. While this bill will help reduce vaping among high school students, restrictions on sweet flavors and marketing can further aid in preventing underage usage.