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Maryland Mandates Age Verification For Selling Tobacco

Maryland Mandates Age Verification For Selling Tobacco

Author: admin | 24 May 2024

“SB 1056”, Maryland’s new bill requires tobacco retailers to initiate Age Verification prior to selling tobacco products. This bill aims to set a verification process to certify the age of the consumer buying tobacco products. Although the law will be enforced from October 1st, 2024, it has created concerns in the community about the feasibility of implementation mainly for small-scale stores.

The law requires the staff to verify the age of the consumer. Now the retailer can do so vis-a-vis traditional means i.e. checking the ID manually or using any electronic device as well. It may seem convenient, but there are certain issues related to scanners as well. 

Non-Compliance

Hefty fines are set in place if Maryland’s tobacco sellers do not comply. Here is a breakdown of the penalties:

  • If any seller violates the law for the first time, he will be fined over $300
  • If the seller commits a second violation within the first two years, the fine would accumulate to $1000. 
  • After two violations, every next violation will lead to a $3000 fine. 

Potential Challenges

There are certain challenges presented by SB 1056. Reports claim that it will require training the staff on the implementation of new procedures which will take time and resources. Smaller companies with limited budgets might face financial constraints. 

Beyond training, there are other logistical challenges as well. Scanners have to be made compatible with the existing POS systems. This will require further investment and technical know-how. Most importantly, the use of scanners might raise concerns about customer data and how it is stored and protected.  

On the other hand, ID scanners could be more foolproof. Criminals using fake IDs or even deepfake technology can create a video of themselves as a person of legitimate age holding the ID. This activity could potentially trick the scanner into believing an underage is of legal age. 

Forging The Way Forward

The upcoming few months till the enforcement of SB 1056 on October 1st, 2024, will be important for the Maryland Tobacco selling companies. The success of this new law will depend on the effectiveness of implementing the Identification scanners even by smaller businesses. However, the best way to verify age is to integrate facial recognition technology. This tech can analyze the skin texture, wrinkles, hair color, and eye condition of an individual to accurately detect his or her age. Hence, no person will be able to spoof the test while purchasing tobacco products. 

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