Day 30 – Tobacco Related Products in Schools

Today, Senator Bailey presented a bill to stop children in St. Mary’s County from using tobacco related products in schools.  As introduced, Senate Bill 508 – St. Mary’s County – Possession of Tobacco Product or Electronic Smoking Device by an Individual Under the Age of 21 Years – Prohibition would prohibit an individual younger than age 21 from possessing a tobacco product or electronic smoking device in St. Mary’s County.  

Last session, the General Assembly passed legislation raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products or an electronic smoking device from 18 to 21.  At the same time, this legislation repealed the prohibition on a minor possessing tobacco products or electronic smoking devices.  Following passage of this law last session, the St. Mary’s County Public School System became concerned following incidents involving students possessing tobacco products in our schools and on school property.  Following discussions with our Sheriff’s Office and State’s Attorney, the school administration requested introduction of this local legislation to assist them with keeping tobacco out of the hands of our students.  Senator Bailey was proud to have the support of the County Commissioners, School Superintendent, Sheriff, and State’s Attorney.

After working with the District 29 Delegation, Senator Bailey decided to introduce an amendment that would limit it to only be in effect on school grounds.  Senate Bill 508 does not impose any criminal penalties for possession of a tobacco product or electronic smoking device by an individual under the age of 21 in St. Mary’s County; a violation of this law would be a civil offense.  For individuals under the age of 18 on school grounds in St. Mary’s County, this bill simply returns the law on possession of tobacco products to the previous law, which was more effective in combatting tobacco use in our schools.

Last night, the Senate marked Presidents’ Day by holding a special session in the Old Senate Chamber.  This Chamber is where George Washington resigned his military commission in 1783, and has been restored to reflect the way the room looked on that day.  The Senators heard the annual Washington Day address from Dr. Francois Furstenberg, a history professor at Johns Hopkins University.

Senator Bailey was joined in Annapolis today by members of the Maryland Federation of Republican Women for their annual “Red Scarf Day.”  The Republican Women attended this morning’s Senate Republican Caucus meeting, where they were briefed on issues that the Caucus is working on this session.  During this meeting, members of the MFRW shared their thoughts and opinions on legislation before the General Assembly this session.