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Keyword: tobacco

Public Health Initiative Expands Law to Dangerous Vaping Products

In a critical public health victory, the Baltimore County Council today voted to approve County Executive Johnny Olszewski’s proposal to increase the legal age for tobacco product sales in Baltimore County from eighteen to twenty-one years of age and to expand the law to include all electronic smoking devices (ESD), component parts and accessories, otherwise known as vaping products.

While Maryland recently raised age of sale for tobacco products, including vaping products, to twenty-one, legislation was necessary to empower the Baltimore County Department of Health (DOH) to enforce the new requirements. Baltimore County is the first major jurisdiction to pass this proposal.

Tobacco Use Is a Public Health Crisis

“Youth tobacco use is a public health crisis and we must do everything we can to help protect the health and safety of Baltimore County’s young people,” said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski. “This new law will empower Baltimore County to take action now to help prevent young people from the harmful effects of smoking.”

Since 2015, the Baltimore County Department of Health has overseen the Tobacco Enforcement Program, which ensures that retailers do not sell tobacco products to underage persons by conducting compliance checks of the county’s tobacco licensees and by issuing citations to outlets that sell to underage youth.

In Fiscal Year 2019, more than 3,000 checks were conducted at County retail outlets.

The Tobacco Enforcement Program has been successful in reducing the rate of tobacco sales to youth under eighteen in Baltimore County. In just four years of operation, the retailer violation rate decreased from 54.7 percent in Fiscal Year 2015 to 0 percent in Fiscal Year 2019.

Enforcement

Continued enforcement, paired with the new increased legal age and inclusion of vaping products during compliance checks, will make it more difficult for youth and young adults to purchase these products.

“Smoking and vaping equals death,” said Gregory Wm. Branch, M.D., MBA, CPE, FACP, Health Officer and Director, Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services. “I am so glad that the Council approved the increase from age eighteen to twenty-one. Many lives will be saved.”

Statistics

National data show that approximately ninety-five percent of adult smokers begin smoking before the age of twenty-one. The Surgeon General has stated that vaping among underage youth is an epidemic. Vaping is now the most popular form of tobacco use among youth.

The percentage of Baltimore County high school students who use any tobacco or vaping product is about twenty-four percent. The percentage of high school students who have ever used a vaping product is nearly forty percent. Over fifty-two percent of Baltimore County high school students  eighteen or older have used a vaping product.

These rates, as well as the rates throughout the country, are staggering and deserve immediate attention, especially now that hundreds of vaping-associated lung illnesses have been reported throughout the country.


By Gregory Wm. Branch, M.D., MBA, CPE, FACP, Director, Department of Health and Human Services

With prom season upon us, it is particularly important that adults do their part to reduce youth access to alcohol and tobacco. The responsibility falls on our entire community to help ensure that our children have long, healthy lives.

The vast majority of current smokers started in their teens, and studies have shown that tobacco is a gateway to using other substances and engaging in high-risk behavior. Nicotine is highly addictive and the carcinogens cause cancer and a host of other health conditions.

Underage drinking also poses many risks, both social and health-related. The greater risks to health include higher incidence of traffic accidents, impaired judgment that can lead to illegal drug use and even death. Youth are at risk for restricted development of their brains, bones and organs when they drink alcohol. Youth who drink alcohol also are at increased risk for academic underachievement.

The best way to prevent youth from using alcohol and tobacco is to ensure that they do not have access to them.

I urge retailers to CARD everyone.

Check their ID.

Act Responsibly by actually reading the ID and verifying the birthdate. When you realize the youth is not of age, Don’t sell.

For information on quit smoking classes or substance use prevention services and resources, call 410-88-REACH (410-887-3224).

Keywords: alcohol, health, show id, tobacco

Show airs on Cable Channel 25 and online

The latest edition of Baltimore County’s half-hour cable television public affairs show, “Hello Baltimore County,” features winter storm operations, and offers real-world advice on quitting smoking and establishing healthy eating habits.

ICYMI – In case you missed it, we review some recent headlines from your County government.

What to Know When it Snows – Find out about the County’s winter storm preparations and learn about the County’s new Stormfighter web feature that helps you report storm-related issues to the County.

You CAN Quit Smoking! – Learn about free resources from the Health Department to help you quit for good.

A Heart to Heart with the Doctor – Baltimore County’s top doc, Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch, shares valuable heart disease prevention and treatment advice. 

You can also view the show on the County website’s Hello Baltimore County page at http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Videos/hellobaltimorecounty.html . Click on the menu icon in the upper left of the video screen to select an individual segment.

In addition to online access, the program runs several times per week on Cable Channel 25, in Baltimore County, at the following times:

  • Mondays: 1:30 p.m., 6 p.m., 10 p.m.
  • Tuesdays: 12 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 9 p.m.
  • Wednesdays: 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m., 10 p.m.
  • Thursdays: 1 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 8 p.m.
  • Fridays: 11 a.m., 6 p.m.
  • Saturdays: 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m., 10:30 p.m.
  • Sundays: 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m., 10:30 p.m.

 
 
Revised September 11, 2017