Tobacco Sales Enforcement Program to Prevent Youth Access to Tobacco

In July 1992, Congress enacted the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration Reorganization Act which includes an amendment aimed at decrTobacco Awareness Program for Teens post card. Click for pdf version.easing youth access to tobacco.

Preventing Youth Access to Tobacco in Howard County:

The New Law in Maryland - Tobacco 21 Legislation Effective October 1, 2019Maryland T21 Law. No person under age 21 may be sold tobacco products without military identification

 In April 2019, Maryland General Assembly voted to raise the legal age to buy tobacco and nicotine products, including vaping products, from 18 to 21. The legislation signed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and will take effect in October 1, 2019.  For an overview of the new law go to Maryland Department of Health's Tobacco 21 “What’s New” Overview

For information and resources about quitting, visit the Maryland Quitline webpage at

If you have interest in quitting smoking (of any kind), the Health Department can help.  Call us at 410-313-4255 or visit our webpage here.

For Retailers

As of October 1, 2019, selling, distributing or offering to sell tobacco products to anyone under 21 is illegal. You are responsible for upholding the law. Compliance checks will be conducted and enforced on a continuous basis to ensure your store is following federal, state and local laws that prohibit the sale of tobacco to minors. If you are found guilty of selling any tobacco product, including vapes, to underage youth, federal fines are in excess of $10,000 and you could even lose your license to sell tobacco.

How to comply with the new law:
  1. Post an age of sale sign (compliant with the new law)
  2. Use a driver’s license or government-issued ID to verify customer age
  3. Train all staff on tobacco sales procedures and policies:
    • Ask for valid photo ID from everyone under 27
    • Check to make sure everyone is at least 21.*
    • Refuse to sell tobacco and e-cigarette products to everyone under 21*

*The minimum sales age remains 18 for active duty military with valid military identification.

For free online training, additional materials, and FAQs, visit

Maryland Violations and Penalties: 
Sale or distribution of a tobacco product, including Electronic Smoking Devices (ESDs) to a minor: The licensee/owner, not the clerk, may be subject to a civil penalty up to: 
  • $300 for a first violation; 
  • $1,000 for a second violation within two years of the first violation;
  • $3,000 for each subsequent violation occurring within two years of preceding violation

To sell tobacco products in Maryland, you must have a license. The type of license required depends on the tobacco products being sold. Licenses must be clearly displayed in the business. Licenses must be renewed each year. 

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Flavored Cigarettes 

The sale of flavored cigarettes (NOT menthol) is illegal under federal law, and is subject to action by the FDA. In addition, the sale of clove cigarettes is illegal in Maryland and can result in a fine of $500. 

Packaging & Promotions 
  • Cigarettes may only be sold in packages of at least 20.
  • Sale or distribution of unpackaged cigarettes is illegal and can result in a fine of $500 and up to three months imprisonment.
  • Retailers may not distribute free samples of tobacco products or offer gifts with the purchase of tobacco products. This includes coupons or credits on any product other than tobacco.
  • Smokeless tobacco may be sold only as packaged by the manufacturer.