Vaping association advises caution over Maryland bill raising legal smoking age to 21
Recent legislation passed by Maryland lawmakers requires those who purchase tobacco products to be at least 21.
The bills — House Bill 1169 and SB 895, its Senate equivalent — also make 21 the minimum smoking age in the state and deems products such as rolling papers and nicotine-free vape juice “tobacco products.”
According to an April 20 Capital Gazette article, vapes have become a serious issue in schools. Citing the U.S. Surgeon General, the Capital Gazette reported that vape usage among teenagers nearly doubled last year, increasing from 11 percent in 2017 to almost 21 percent in 2018.
The American Vaping Association took a “what is good for the goose is good for the gander” approach in regards to the age restriction.
“If we are going to set the age to use tobacco or nicotine, drink alcohol, and use recreational marijuana at 21, it is probably time to raise the age to 21 for a whole host of other adult activities,” stated the AVA in an emailed statement. “If the age to purchase tobacco and nicotine products is going to be raised, we would prefer that it be done at the federal level.”
Massachusetts is a good example for states that “are not willing to wait for the federal government to act,” according to the AVA.
“We strongly recommend that they follow the Massachusetts model for these laws and grandfather in 18, 19, and 20 year old adults. Taking away the ability of existing users to access these products will do nothing but fuel black market sales.”
HB also authorizes the Maryland Department of Health to conduct inspections of licensed retailers and use certain individuals under the age of 21 years to assist in conducting a certain inspection.
Efforts to reach the Vapor Technology Association for comment were unsuccessful.