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Maryland House, Senate pass different versions of bill banning tobacco sales under age 21

Maryland’s Senate and House of Delegates on Monday approved different versions of a measure to raise the age for buying tobacco and nicotine products from 18 to 21.

The Senate included an exception in its bill intended for members of the military. Individuals 18 to 20 could still purchase tobacco products if they show a military identification, under the Senate version.

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The House of Delegates considered the same exception but declined to put it in its version of the bill.

The Senate version passed by a vote of 35-11. The House version passed 100-39.

The two chambers will have to either agree to one version or the other, or they will work out the differences in a conference committee before sending the bill to Gov. Larry Hogan for his consideration.

Raising the age for buying tobacco is a priority of Democratic leaders in the legislature, as well as the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland.

An effort to raise the minimum age for buying tobacco to 21 is gaining momentum in Maryland. Legislation to raise the age has floundered in Annapolis for years, but is picking up support this year from the Democratic leaders of the House of Delegates and state Senate, as well as the black caucus.

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