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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 calls for the following actions to be taken by Maryland's elected officials:

  1. Increase the age of sale for tobacco products to 21 years of age;
  2. Create parity between the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products; and
  3. Fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended level.
During the 2018 legislative session, identical bills supported by the American Lung Association in Maryland were introduced in the state House of Representatives and Senate to raise the minimum legal sales age of tobacco products to 21. Both bills received a hearing, which featured compelling testimony from youth in Maryland about how e-cigarette use in particular was widespread in their schools. Unfortunately, neither bill was acted on further by either the House or Senate during 2018.

A bill was also introduced to dedicate funding to tobacco prevention and cessation programs with a requirement to spend $21 million each year on tobacco control efforts. This bill also did not pass out of committee. Overall, state funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs in Maryland for fiscal year 2019 was slightly below last year at $9.7 million. The program is funded by tobacco Master Settlement Agreement payments.

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 and cessation programs.

With a new and high-ranking sponsor for the Tobacco 21 bill in the House and the bill's Senate sponsor taking over as chairperson of the main committee of jurisdiction in the Senate, the Lung Association is optimistic about the chances for that bill in 2019

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