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Maryland lawmakers introduce bill cracking down on tobacco sales

Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Maryland State Capitol

By Jacob Steinberg

Capital News Service

Maryland legislators introduced a bill that would allow localities throughout the state to place more stringent restrictions on the sale and distribution of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

SB0410 and its cross-file, HB1011, sponsored by Sen. Benjamin F. Kramer, D-Montgomery, and Del. Samuel L. Rosenberg, D-Baltimore, authorizes a county or municipality to enact and enforce local laws that are at least as stringent as state laws that regulate the sale and distribution of cigarettes, according to a state legislative analysis.

“Tobacco kills our kids and what this bill would do is give local jurisdictions the authority to take action if they feel that the specific needs of their communities were not met by state law,” Rosenberg said at a Thursday press conference Capital News Service viewed.

That rule also applies to other tobacco products and electronic smoking devices.

If passed, this legislation would allow local jurisdictions to pose tougher restrictions on the age limit to buy cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Under this bill, localities would also have the authority to limit some kinds of tobacco-related products that are sold, including vapes and their associated flavors.

“There are a myriad of reasons to support giving local jurisdictions this control, all of which relate to the health and welfare of the public,” Kramer said at a Thursday Senate Finance Committee bill hearing.

However, it doesn’t apply to issuance of licenses for cigarettes, other tobacco products and electronic smoking devices as well as the taxation of cigarettes and other tobacco products, according to a state legislative analysis.

All issues related to the monitoring and enforcement of tobacco taxes would still remain under the purview of the Comptroller’s Office.

An electronic smoking device is defined as a device that can be used to deliver aerosolized or vaporized nicotine to an individual inhaling from the device, according to a state legislative analysis.

This describes a wide variety of products, including an electronic cigarette, cigar, cigarillo, pipe, hookah, a vape pen and vaping liquid.

“The tobacco industry unfortunately has been very skilled at advancing its products into new markets and vaping is part of that, so it’s essential we address that as well in this legislation,” Rosenberg said.

It also includes any part or accessory of these products, even if it’s sold separately.