By John Castle
A recent change to Maryland law has made it a criminal offense to sell vapor products to minors. Previously, doing so was a civil offense.
The new law carries with it monetary penalties; according to Todd Crum, Prevention Program Administrator with the Frederick County Health Department:
“Both violations include penalties of $300 for a first offense; $1,000 for the second offense within a 24-month period; and $3,000 for each subsequent offense within a 24-month period,”
Crum goes on to state that:
“E-cigarettes and vaping products come in a variety of flavors, making them taste better, smell better and thus seeming as a safer alternative to combustible cigarettes. However, these products still contain nicotine which is an addictive chemical.”
While it is to be strongly preferred that minors not use nicotine in any form, Mr. Crum falls into the logic trap common to those who, with good intentions, argue against nicotine use without thinking that argument through fully. He fails to address the fact that, absent the mainstream ability of vaping, minors would likely have continued to smoke, as they are known to have done for many decades before vapor products were commercially available. Furthermore, although the case may be different in Maryland, it’s a fact for the rest of us that nicotine happens to be a constituent found in tobacco smoke, which is far more damaging to human health than vapor is.
These concerns aside, Maryland is taking a good step forward in sales age enforcement, and enforcement is far more effective than prohibition.