Tobacco 21

Maryland Tobacco 21

On May 13, 2019, Maryland joined twelve other states in requiring 21 as the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products.  This legislation will be effective October 1, 2019

The “Tobacco 21” bill has also expanded the definition of tobacco products to include electronic smoking devices (ESD).  This legislation is partially in response to the national rise in tobacco use among high school students which has increased by 40% from 2017 to 2018;  the use of ESDs have increased by 78%.1

“Maryland data show that electronic smoking devices are by far the most commonly used product among our high school students,” said Dawn Berkowitz, director of Maryland Department of Health (MDH) Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control. “Most of these popular candy- and fruit-flavored products that are attractive to youth contain high levels of nicotine. In addition to addiction, the nicotine in these products leads to reduced impulse control, attention deficit, and other learning and mood disorders in youth and young adults. It’s troubling that we often hear of older high school students supplying these tobacco products to their younger peers.”1

In Chicago the implementation of Tobacco 21 resulted in a 30% decline in cigarette and electronic smoking device use among 18-20 year olds.1

Laura Hale, Director of Government Relations, Maryland at the American Heart Association, said: “Raising the minimum legal sales age for tobacco from 18 to 21 is a major step in protecting young people in Maryland from the harms of tobacco, including e-cigarettes and vapes. We thank Governor Hogan for recognizing the importance of protecting Maryland’s future generations from a lifetime of addiction and tobacco-related death and disease.”1

The MDH is currently working to update resources in order to support retailers in complying with new regulations.  Resources can be found at

For more information and help quitting, please visit


1. State of Maryland, Maryland Department of Health. (2019, May 16). Maryland becomes 13th state to raise minimum legal sales age for tobacco products to 21 [Press release]. Retrieved June 4, 2019, from

2. Maryland Responsible Tobacco Retailer Program. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Broadwater, L. (2019, June 21). Maryland Gov. Hogan signs bill banning young adults from buying tobacco, nicotine products. Retrieved from