ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland became the 14th state to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products from the federal minimum of 18 to 21, with Gov. Larry Hogan signing the measure May 13, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The legislature did so after approving an exemption for those serving in the military, the newspaper reported.
“There is no more important job than protecting the health and safety of Marylanders,” Hogan said when he signed the legislation.
The legislation takes effect in October and will make Maryland the 14th state to make the change, following Arkansas, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
The bill passed the House of Delegates with a 101-35 vote and the Senate with a vote of 32-13.
The law will apply to tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, e-cigarettes and vaping devices. For retailers, the law will require signs warning that the products can be sold only to those age 21 or older. Fines begin at $300 for a first offense.
The move also follows efforts at the federal level, with both houses of Congress initiating legislation to raise the minimum legal age to purchase tobacco. In the meantime, several retailers, including Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart, have publicly said they will raise the age to purchase tobacco products at their stores to 21.