MD lawmakers to consider raising age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – ” As easy as it may sound, there’s a lot to consider,” said Delegate Wayne Hartman (R-District 38C).

It’s a bill that’s gaining a lot of momentum, to raise the minimum age for buying tobacco in Maryland from 18 to 21.

“I believe that this is a move in the right direction,” said Delegate Sheree Sample-Hughes (D-District 37A).

It’s a piece of legislation that’s struggled for years to get the support it needed to make this change. But this go round, a number of democrats in the house and senate, and the legislative black caucus are backing the bill.

“The stores are in poverty stricken areas or minority areas where they want to keep pushing these ads for minorities to buy cigarettes. This is a message to say we are wanting to safeguard as much as possible the wealth and the health of our communities,” Sample-Hughes said.

If passed, the law would apply to all types of tobacco products including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vaping tools and more. And would require retailers to only sell to those 21 and older. But if they’re caught doing otherwise they could be fined a minimum of $300. And local lawmakers say that’s a major problem they’re finding with this piece of legislation.

“I think in order for things to work you need to come up with a punishment on the other side because they have to be a consequence to everything you do or the bill won’t work,” said Delegate Steven Arentz (R- Distrcit 36).

Other legislators are pointing out what they’re calling a contradiction in the bill, arguing that at 18 years old you’re old enough to vote and join the army.

“We’re taking that right away from somebody who we’re saying could risk their life and fight for a country but yet again I’m going to tell them when to smoke,” Hartman said.

And although the bill is still in its early stages lawmakers say it’s going to be a tough decision to make.

“I have opinions on it on both sides and I haven’t made up my mind yet it’s really one of those tough decisions,” said Hartman.

Legislators add that if this bill is passed, Maryland will be the eighth state to limit the sales of tobacco products to those 21 and older.

Categories: Local News, Local Politics, Maryland