Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Maryland. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association in Maryland calls for the following actions to be taken by our elected officials:
- Increase the age of sale for tobacco products to 21 years of age;
- Create parity between the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products; and
- Fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended level.
During the 2017 legislative session, identical bills supported by the American Lung Association in Maryland were introduced in the state House of Representatives and Senate to dedicate funding to tobacco prevention and cessation programs with a requirement to spend $21 million each year on tobacco control efforts. Both bills received a hearing, but were unfortunately not acted on further by either the House or Senate during 2017.
A bill was also introduced to raise the age of sale for tobacco products to 21 in the Senate, this bill also did not make it out of committee, but will be a priority for the Lung Association in Maryland in 2018. Several bills were also introduced that dealt with electronic cigarettes and smokefree hotel rooms, one would have added electronic cigarettes to Maryland's smokefree indoor air law. Another would have prohibited smoking in all hotel rooms. Neither made it out of committee.
On the local level, Rockville, Maryland passed a smokefree ordinance barring the smoking of tobacco products in open air areas of restaurants and bars. This bill took effect in May of 2017.
The American Lung Association in Maryland will continue to educate lawmakers on the ongoing fight against tobacco. Our goal is to build champions within the legislature and a groundswell of advocates to advance our goals: legislation to increase the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21, parity between the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products, and increased funding for tobacco prevention cessation programs.