In mid-March, both chambers of the Maryland Legislature passed bills raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21-years-old, except the two bills contained one significant difference: an exemption to the increase for active duty members to the military with valid identification.
Today, the House resolved that discrepancy by approving an amended version of its bill, H.B. 1169, that adds the exemption for members of the military, approving it by a 101-35 vote and sending the bill to Gov. Larry Hogan for his signature. Maryland law states that bills passed by the legislature must be presented to the governor within twenty days after adjournment of a session, and once presented with a bill the Governor has up to 30 days to veto it.
If the governor signs the bill, the increase will go into effect on Oct. 1, 2019. If he vetoes it, it would return to the legislature where the veto could likely be overridden, as both chambers passed the bill with more than enough votes needed to do so.
Assuming the bill does get signed into law, Maryland will become the tenth state to enact such an increase, joining Hawaii, California, Oregon, New Jersey, Maine, Massachusetts, Virginia, Utah and Washington, the last three of those group doing so this year. The list could soon grow even more, as the legislatures in New York and Illinois have passed similar bills that are waiting on signatures from their respective governors.
An earlier version of this article indicated the House vote was 100-35. It has been corrected and we regret the error.