Members of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland are leading the charge to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products in the state to 21-years-old, with a bill scheduled to be introduced into the Assembly when the 2019 legislative session convenes on Jan. 9.
Del. Dereck E. Davis (D-Prince George’s), the bill’s primary sponsor, announced plans to push for the increase over the weekend, with the caucus supporting it as part of its 2019 legislative priorities, the first time the group has done so. A companion bill will be introduced in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Delores G. Kelley (D-Baltimore County).
This will be the fifth time such legislative has been introduced into the state’s legislator, with last year’s attempt stalling in committee hearings. Both Davis and Kelley are chairs of committees that will likely consider the bill, which should give them a better chance of advancing.
Currently, six states have passed a statewide tobacco purchasing age of 21-years-old: California, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon and Massachusetts, though that state’s is a progressive increase that will be rolled out over the next two years. Several hundred cities and counties across the country have also passed such legislation, including New York City, Chicago and Washington D.C.