The Maryland legislature will soon begin the process of debating whether or not to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco and nicotine delivery products from 18 to 21-years-old, as Sen. Delores Kelley, D-Baltimore County, has introduced S.B. 669 in an attempt to increase it.
Kelley’s bill also would prohibit tobacco vending machines in all places except where only people 21 years and older are allowed, and would not allow for the sale of tobacco paraphernalia or coupons to be distributed to anyone under 21. Fines would remain the same as they currently are, starting at $300 for a first violation and then rising to $1,000 for a second violation and $3,000 for a third within two years.
Use or possession of tobacco by a person under 21 would also become a crime, with fines of $25 for a first violation and $50 for subsequent violations. Attempts to purchase tobacco by means of a fake identification would carry the same fines.
The bill is scheduled for hearing in Senate Finance Committee on March 9. It has already gained the support of seven cosponsors.
It would go into effect on Oct. 1, 2017 if it passes.