Smoke screen

March 10, 1994

What could be more reasonable than making it harder for children to buy cigarettes? The wiles of the tobacco purveyors' lobbyists in Annapolis, it appears. Maryland has prohibited selling cigarettes to minors for 107 years. Kids buy them anyway, from unsupervised vending machines.

Two cities, Takoma Park and Bowie, wanted to regulate the machines to make them inaccessible to children. But the House Commerce and Government Matters Committee, by lopsided votes, killed two bills that would have permitted local regulation of cigarette vending machines.

Among those voting against letting localities make it tougher for kids to get hooked on addictive cigarettes were Dels. John Arnick and Leslie Hutchinson of Baltimore County, R. Charles Avara and Frank Boston of Baltimore City and David Craig of Harford County. They could have trouble -- deservedly so -- explaining their inexplicable votes on the campaign trail.

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