Maryland Legislature To Raise Tobacco Age To 21 Takes Effect


Beginning October 1, 2019, the new minimum sales age for all tobacco products in Maryland is 21 (“T21”). This includes sales of all electronic smoking devices—e-cigarettes, vapes, pod devices such as JUUL®, e-liquids, and component parts and accessories.

A tobacco product includes cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff, and snus, electronic smoking devices (ESDs), and filters, rolling papers, pipes and liquids used in electronic smoking devices, regardless of nicotine content, as well as accessories and components.

There is no “grandfathering,” phase-in, or grace period. As of this October 1, 2019, no tobacco sales are permissible to customers under 21.

Those who are active duty military and at least 18 years of age are exempt and may be sold tobacco if a valid military identification (ID) card is provided. The Common Access Card is valid military ID.

Retailers are required to post a sign in a clearly visible location using letters at least one-half inch high that states, “NO PERSON UNDER THE AGE OF 21 MAY BE SOLD TOBACCO PRODUCTS WITHOUT MILITARY IDENTIFICATION.” The Maryland Department of Health is mailing T21 compliant signs to all licensed tobacco retailers, including vape shops, across the state.

In 2018, the U.S. Surgeon General warned that e-cigarette use among youth is now an epidemic. Between 2017 and 2018, current e-cigarette use increased 78 percent among U.S. high school students; in 2018, more than 3.6 million U.S. youth, including 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students, reported current e-cigarette use. Raising the sales age to 21 helps reduce youth access to e-cigarettes and other tobacco products, which reduces the likelihood of them ever starting to use tobacco. Most adults who smoke or use tobacco started by age 21.

A current (not expired) driver’s license or valid government-issued ID (e.g., passport). School and employer-issued ID are not acceptable.

As of October 1, 2019, there are no penalties for underage purchase or possession of tobacco. Youth purchase and possession laws have not been shown to be effective in reducing youth access and may unfairly target certain groups, including minority groups.