In a Thursday afternoon hearing of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Antonio Hayes (District 40 – Baltimore City) detailed his legislation (Senate Bill 310) that would prohibit the sale of loose cigarettes in Baltimore City. The bill correspondingly authorizes tobacco enforcement officers of the Baltimore City Health Department to enforce the ban and specifies related protocols.
Joined by statewide and regional healthcare advocates, Hayes made clear the necessity of the legislation and the realities of circumstances in Baltimore City relating to tobacco sales. “Loose cigarettes are typically targeted to young people in the community and more so to communities of color,” said Hayes. He followed: “They (loose cigarettes) disproportionately impact inner-city communities of color.”
Testimony from the Maryland Council on Cancer Control followed Senator Hayes. Dr. Kevin Cullen (Chairman of the Council and Director of the University of Maryland, Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center) noted the necessity of the legislation citing the fact that smoking rates in Baltimore City are some 50% higher than in the rest of the State of Maryland.
Senator Hayes is joined in co-sponsorship of Senate Bill 310 by the entire Baltimore City Senate Delegation including Senators Carter (District 41), Ferguson (District 46), McCray (District 45), and Washington (District 43). The legislation is identically cross-filed in the House of Delegates with House Bill 1351 and is sponsored by Delegate Tony Bridges (District 41).
Having now been heard, Senate Bill 310 awaits a vote of the Senate Finance Committee. House Bill 1351 was introduced on March 18th and is currently assigned to the House Rules and Executive Nominations Committee. Both pieces of legislation must successfully pass both the Maryland Senate and the Maryland House of Delegates by Sine Die on Monday, April 8th to be sent to Governor Hogan to be approved or vetoed.