Save Lives, Protect Kids in Maryland by Raising Tobacco Sales Age to 21

Joint statement from leading public health organizations

January 9, 2019


ANNAPOLIS, Md. –  The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids applaud the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland for its support of legislation that would increase the state’s tobacco sales age from 18 to 21.  Following is a joint statement from the coalition:

“The Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland clearly recognizes the toll that tobacco products take on the citizens of this state. Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death in Maryland, killing more than 7,500 adults annually. Additionally, an estimated 1,900 Maryland kids become new daily smokers each year.

“Because 95 percent of adult smokers begin this deadly addiction before age 21, it’s imperative to enact policies that protect our kids from Big Tobacco. Since most 21-year olds are not in high school, raising the tobacco age promises to reduce the number of high school students who can legally be sold tobacco products or who will have access to friends who can supply them.

“Unless current smoking rates decline, 92,000 Maryland kids alive today will eventually die prematurely from tobacco-related illnesses. Increasing the state’s tobacco sales age to 21 is an important step to combat tobacco use, save lives and protect future generations. There are already six states and at least 420 localities that have passed laws to raise the tobacco sales age to 21. Now is the time for Maryland to join them.”


The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit

The American Heart Association is a leading force for a world of longer, healthier lives. With nearly a century of lifesaving work, the Dallas-based association is dedicated to ensuring equitable health for all. We are a trustworthy source empowering people to improve their heart health, brain health and well-being. We collaborate with numerous organizations and millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, advocate for stronger public health policies, and share lifesaving resources and information. Connect with us on, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

The American Lung Association in Maryland is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit:

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Our vision: A future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco. We work to save lives by advocating for public policies that prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect everyone from secondhand smoke.



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