Smoking, vaping age rising to 21 in Maryland

What do cigarettes, Juul pods, rolling papers and nicotine-free vape juice all have in common? Starting Oct. 1 they will all be considered “tobacco products” in Maryland, and you will have to be at least 21 to buy them.

House bill 1169 and its corresponding Senate bill 895 will raise the smoking age in Maryland to 21 as well as reclassify all vape products and accessories as tobacco products regardless of their nicotine concentration. The measure is on Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk, awaiting his signature.

Vendors will still be able to sell tobacco products to active duty service members who are at least 18 with military IDs.

Vapes have become a serious issue in schools, where their popularity has shot up in recent years. Usage of vapes by high school students nearly doubled last year, increasing from 11 percent in 2017 to almost 21 percent in 2018, according to the United States Surgeon General.

Support from Wicomico County

“I’m glad it’s passed,” said Rhonda Bryant, Wicomico County Health Department tobacco program coordinator.

Bryant is primarily happy about the new law to help curb youth smoking as it can cause many health issues and raise health insurance premiums.

The health department already works with the Wicomico County public schools on smoking prevention. Bryant said when a student is found on school property vaping or smoking, they must come to the health department for an informational program.



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