ANNAPOLIS, Md — Maryland could be the 7th state to raise the tobacco sale age from 18 to 21, and students gathered in Annapolis to encourage lawmakers to make the change, sharing experiences they've had in school.
"I've seen tobacco use in the cafeteria, in classes, in the bathroom," Towson High School sophomore Sean Christensen said. "You can walk through and you can smell mango or mint or cotton candy, which are all smells of JUUL usage."
"It's really destructive," Towson High School sophomore Elliott Morton said. "It looks like a little USB stick but it'll do so much damage."
"There are some kids in middle school at my school who vape," North Bethesda Middle School student Lilana Katz- Hollander said.
These students met in Annapolis Monday night with Tobacco 21 during the American Heart Association Advocacy Day to encourage lawmakers to pass a bill that would raise the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. The law would apply to all kinds of tobacco products, including JUUL and electronic cigarettes.
These students believe it will help stop the flow of the products into their schools and into the hands of younger kids.
"Many high schoolers are 18 and they can actually buy these products legally and then sell them throughout the high school," Christensen said.
"Some of the kids I guess get it from their older siblings and raising the age would stop some of their older siblings from getting it which would stop them from getting it," Katz- Hollander said.
According to the CDC, smoking cigarettes among U.S. youth has steadily declined over the last 20 years, but the number of middle and high school students using e-cigarettes rose by 1.5 million from 2017 to 2018. The CDC also says nearly all tobacco product use starts during youth and young adulthood.
"I think it's really important that kids don't get to those things because you can get addicted more easily as a kid and that could change your whole life," Katz- Hollander said.
Six states have already passed similar laws. Both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly are considering similar versions of the bill and the House Economic Matters committee is holding a hearing on it on February 27. If passed, it would go into effect in October.