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INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the Smoke Free Maryland Coalition!

Smoke Free Maryland is a statewide coalition of concerned organizations and individuals working to reduce tobacco-caused illness and death by:

  • advocating for significantly higher tobacco prices;
  • preventing the sale of tobacco to minors;
  • restricting targeted tobacco advertising;
  • protecting workers and the public from secondhand smoke;
  • helping smokers who want to quit get treatment; and
  • advocating for local government control over the sale, distribution, marketing and use of tobacco products.

 
 

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Maryland Smoking Laws

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Maryland Laws You Should Know...

 

Youth Access to Tobacco

It is illegal for adults to distribute tobacco to minors. This section makes it illegal for merchants to distribute tobacco to people under the age of 18. Minors working for tobacco retailers are allowed to handle tobacco only in the course of their job. If you see a merchant selling tobacco to a young person, call your local or State police to inform them. Also, please tell the owner/manager what you observed.

What kind of penalties can merchants receive?

This section explains the fines that are possible for violating section 404 above. Owners, managers, and/or clerks may be cited by any uniformed police officer for distributing tobacco to minors. Fines range from up to $300 for the first offense to up to $3,000 for a third or subsequent offense during a 2 year period. If a vending machine distributes tobacco to a minor, the merchant <can be fined as indicated above. This came as the result of a state law passed in 2000. The law takes away the immunity once held by vending machine owners and operators who sell tobacco to kids through vending machines. [see section (b) in the law]. If you see merchants selling tobacco to a young person, call your local police or State police to inform them. Also, please tell the owner/manager what you observed.

What happens to young people who possess or buy tobacco products?

This section makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to possess or use tobacco products. It also makes it illegal to use a fake ID to obtain tobacco. If police cite a minor under this section, he/she may be:
  1. Referred to a smoking cessation clinic, or other suitable presentation of the hazards associated with tobacco use; OR
  2. Assigned to a supervised work program for not more than 20 hours for the first violation and not more than 40 hours for a second or subsequent violation.
[see (n) (1) - (3)] If the child does not show-up at the clinic or supervised work program, the minor may be asked to appear in court. The judge could then:
  1. Counsel the child or the parent or both, or order the child to participate in a smoking cessation clinic, or other suitable presentation of the hazards associated with tobacco use
  2. Impose a civil fine of not more than $25 for the first violation and a civil fine of not more than $100 for a second or subsequent violation; or
  3. Order the child to participate in a supervised work program for not more than 20 hours for the first violation and not more than 40 hours for a second or subsequent violation.
[see (d) (3) (ii), (1) - (3)] If you live in Montgomery Co and Howard Co, local laws prohibiting the sale of tobacco to minors apply. If you live in Howard Co, Baltimore City, Talbot Co, and Wicomico Co it is also illegal for merchants to display tobacco products that are accessible to customers (without the intervention of a clerk).

Smoking in Enclosed Workplaces

To download a copy of the complaint form in MS Word format, click here.To download a copy of the compliant form using Acrobat Reader (pdf format), click here It is illegal to smoke in most indoor workplaces unless confined to an enclosed and separately ventilated smoking room. Such a designated smoking room may not be a location where an employee, other than a custodial or maintenance employee, is required to work. Also, no one is permitted to smoke in a designated smoking room while cleaning and maintenance work is conducted. To see the state regulations on smoking visit: COMAR, Chapter 23 Prohibition on Smoking in an Enclosed Workplace There are exceptions to this rule. Bars and clubs are permitted to allow smoking unless further restricted by local law. The following other restrictions/exceptions apply: Restaurants without a liquor license [see (c) (1) (i) (5) (A)] [Smoking is permitted in] a separate enclosed room not to exceed 40% of the total area of the restaurant. Note: the separate enclosed room in this case does not have to be separately ventilated. Restaurants with a liquor license [see (c) (1) (i) (5) (B)]

[Smoking is permitted in] a bar or bar area, a separate enclosed room not exceeding 40% of the restaurant, or a combination of a bar or bar area and a separate enclosed room not exceeding 40% of the total area of the restaurant including the bar or bar area; [the bar/bar area is considered to be the bar and first row of immediately adjacent tables or booths next to the bar, see (c) (1) (ii) for further definition of a bar/bar area] Note: the separate enclosed room in this case does not have to be separately ventilated.

Hotels & Motels [see (c) (1) (i) (6)] [Smoking is permitted in] up to 40% of the sleeping rooms in a hotel or motel. Establishments with a liquor license for on-site consumption [see (c) (1) (i) (7)] [Smoking is permitted in] a separate enclosed room of an establishment that has a liquor license which allows consumption of alcoholic beverages on the premises of the establishment. [e.g., pool rooms, bowling alleys, etc.] Note: the separate enclosed room in this case does not have to be separately ventilated. Other [see (c) (1) (i) (8)] [Smoking is permitted in] up to 40% of the premises of a fraternal, religious, patriotic, or charitable organization or corporation or fire company or rescue squad (subject to occupational safety and health laws) during an event which is open to the public and held on its own property. Who is covered by the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) Act? The Act covers every Maryland employer in a business, trade, commercial or industrial activity, who has one or more employees, including State and local governments. The Act does not affect workplaces covered under certain other laws such as the Atomic Energy Act, the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act, and the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. The MOSH Act does not apply to working conditions of employees of the federal government or any agency or instrumentality of a federal government agency. These workers are covered under the Federal OSHA program. Who enforces the law and how do I file a complaint if I notice a violation? Smoke Free Maryland can help any member of the public or an employee file a written complaint about a hazard to workers.
To download a copy of the complaint form (MS Word), click here.
To download a copy of the compliant form using Acrobat Reader (pdf format), click here
If you live in Howard County or Talbot County, the laws protecting employees and the public from secondhand smoke are stronger than the State law. In Howard County, smoking in restaurants is only allowed in an enclosed and separately ventilated bar room. In Talbot County, smoking in restaurants is only allowed at the bar and first row of immediately adjacent tables or booths next to the bar. In both counties, if the restaurant does not sell alcoholic beverages, smoking is prohibited. Smoking will be prohibited in all bars and restaurants located in Montgomery County pending the outcome of a lawsuit. To learn more about this landmark law, click here. Call the Howard County Police Department or Talbot County Manager's Office for more information. Tobacco Tax Rate

As of July 2002, Maryland has a $1.00 per pack excise tax on cigarettes making it one of the highest cigarette taxes in the nation. Maryland also taxes spit tobacco, snuff, pipe tobacco and cigars at a rate of 15% of the manufacturer's price.