On Monday, both the Maryland House of Representatives and the Maryland Senate passed bills that will raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21-years-old. The only issue is that they aren’t the same bill.
The Senate’s bill includes an exemption to the increase for active members of the military, meaning that someone between 18 and 20 would still be allowed to purchase tobacco products if they are able to produce valid military identification. The House’s version, however, does not include that exemption.
Both bills passed by wide margins; S.B. 895 passed with a 35-11 vote while H.B. 1169 was approved by a tally of 100-39. Now the two chambers must come to an agreement as to whether or not the exemption should remains. That can be done via amendments or via a conference committee, but it is a matter that must be resolved before a final bill can be send to Gov. Larry Hogan for his review and potential signature.
Maryland is one of several states who appear to be very close to joining a small but growing list of states to make 21-years-old the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, as both Illinois and Utah have sent legislation to their respective governors for approval recently. The trio would join Hawaii, California, Oregon, New Jersey, Maine, Massachusetts and Virginia, the latter of which passed its increase in February.