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New electronic cigarette law set to go into effect

September 7th, 2018 by WCBC Radio

During the 2018 Maryland General Assembly Session, a new law was passed which makes changes to statutes currently in effect related to tobacco and Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS).  Also called electronic cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vaping devices, or vape pens, ENDS are battery-powered devices used to smoke or “vape” a flavored solution.

 

Maryland House Bill 1094 goes into effect on October 1, 2018.  Under the new law, a retailer may be charged with a criminal misdemeanor for selling or distributing ENDS products to minors. The bill also increases fines and penalties for violators and, for the first time, criminalizes the possession of ENDS devices by minors.  

 

HB 1094 increases the existing penalties for civil citations issued to those who distribute ENDS to minors.  First-time offenders face a fine of $300 (no increase from the previous law).  However, penalties for subsequent violations within 24 months of the initial violation will increase to $1,000 for a second violation and $3,000 for each additional violation occurring within 24 months of the last one.

 

While existing state law prohibits the sale of ENDS devices to anyone under 18 years of age, it was not previously illegal for a minor to possess them.  The new law imposes civil penalties for minors “using, possessing, obtaining, or attempting to obtain” ENDS. 

 

While laws related to criminal violations can only be enforced by sworn law enforcement officers, the civil penalties may also be enforced by county health officials.

 

“According to our most recent data, 25% of middle school students and 49% of high school students in Allegany County have used an electronic vaping product,” said Jenelle Mayer, Allegany County Health Officer.  “The new law takes important steps to keep addictive nicotine products out of the hands of children.”     

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