Maryland will Make Smoking and Vaping Age 21


What do cigarettes, Juul pods, rolling papers and nicotine-free vape juice all have in common? Starting Oct. 1 they will all be considered “tobacco products” in Maryland, and you will have to be at least 21 to buy them.

House bill 1169 and its corresponding Senate bill 895 will raise the smoking age in Maryland to 21 as well as reclassify all vape products and accessories as tobacco products regardless of their nicotine concentration.

Vendors will still be able to sell tobacco products to active duty service members who are at least 18 with military IDs.

Vapes have become a serious issue in schools, where their popularity has shot up in recent years. Usage of vapes by high school students nearly doubled last year, increasing from 11 percent in 2017 to almost 21 percent in 2018, according to the United States Surgeon General.

While vapes are popular among adults trying to quit smoking, they still present the risk of nicotine addiction. Though studies of their long-term effects are lacking, vapes have been deemed dangerous for children by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Photo by Charlie Youngmann / Capital News Service

Under this bill, selling tobacco products without a license could result in fines up to $1,000 and/or 30 days imprisonment. Licensed retailers who sell to people younger than 21 could face a $300 fine for their first offense, $1,000 for the second offense within two years of the first and $3,000 for a third offense within two years of the second.

Devin Farmer is a store supervisor at VAPE180 in Annapolis, Maryland. Farmer said he can understand why lawmakers would want to regulate the growing industry with teen vaping on the rise.

Though plenty of people between 18 and 21 frequent Farmer’s store, he said they have enough regulars over the age of 21 that the store should stay in business.

“While (this legislation) will cut back on us a little bit, it shouldn’t do too much damage to our actual business,” Farmer said.

The bill also authorizes the Maryland Department of Health to use people younger than 21 to conduct unannounced inspections of tobacco product retailers. Farmer said he’s experienced similar sting operations working at gas stations, but never at his vape shop.

Farmer said this practice could potentially work, “Maybe kind of as a scare tactic, maybe a once here and there kind of thing. I wouldn’t make it a normal, everyday kind of occurrence,” he said.

VAPE180 supervisor Devin Farmer. Photo by Charlie Youngmann / Capital News Service.

Annapolis resident and former vape store worker Ben Sloskey said he thinks this bill would not only be detrimental to the vapor industry, but also relatively ineffective at preventing teen vaping.

When he worked as a vape retailer, Sloskey said, most of his customers were primarily 18-22 and new to nicotine, or former smokers well into their 30’s. Recalling how easy it was for him to find cigarettes as a teenager, Sloskey said high school students will either go out-of-state or simply pay adults to purchase vape products for them.

In 11 other states including Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia, the age to purchase tobacco has been raised to 21, according to Delaware and Pennsylvania are among other states considering this change.

“How does the 18-year-old senior get alcohol for his party? He talks to a family relative or he talks to his friend,” Sloskey said. “There are people in high school who have an older group of friends because of something that they do in their free time,” he said.

Because this bill would also restrict people younger than 21 from entering a vape shop, Sloskey said younger children may begin to purchase fake IDs, not to get into bars, but to smoke and vape, he said.

Britani Ngo just turned 20 and has been vaping for about two years since she made the switch from cigarettes. As the store supervisor of VAPE180’s Linthicum, Maryland, branch, Ngo said she’s concerned about what this bill may do to her ability to work.

“Hopefully I can stay, but if it comes down to it, I don’t have much of a choice other than to really leave,” Ngo said. “Honestly, I’m just really scared. I hope for the best, I really hope I don’t have to lose my job because this job means everything to me,” she said.

Ngo said she also doubts that this bill will prevent people who are not yet 21 from getting access to vape products.

“People are underestimating just how easy it is to kinda get your hands on things nowadays. To be realistic, if there’s a will there’s a way,” Ngo said.

Ngo and Sloskey both stressed that vaping is often overlooked as a hobby and lifestyle. Sloskey noted the effort vape enthusiasts put into selecting and building their vapes to produce different results while Ngo explained that her store acts as more of a lounge than a place of intoxication.

“Wanting to be able to help people and then having somebody say I can’t help people under a certain age, that’s just kind of a blow in the chest to me,” Ngo said. “I do know a lot of people underage that smoke and eventually it’s just going to get worse and worse,” she said.

Julia Cen Chen-Sankey is a postdoctoral fellow with the National Institutes of Health. While researching her doctoral dissertation at the University of Maryland, Chen-Sankey said that she found sweet vape flavors can act as a gateway into other tobacco products for young users.

High school students make up the largest group of vape users in the United States, with sweet flavors like fruits and desserts being the most popular with young users, Chen-Sankey explained.

While this bill will likely reduce the number of vaping high school students, Chen-Sankey said, restrictions on sweet flavors and marketing could further aid in preventing underage usage.

Chen-Sankey explained that even in products labeled nicotine-free, some traces of the chemical may still be present, or the packaging could be mislabeled. She said that the broad tobacco product classifications put in place by this bill would ensure that consumers are aware of the health risks of vaping, regardless of what they are purchasing.

A pair of failed bills this session—House bill 1185 and Senate bill 708—would have restricted vape packaging to exclude cartoons, teen mascots and other imagery deemed appealing to children.

“I’d like to see (the vapor industry) keep growing as it has. There’s honestly not a place in Maryland you can go without seeing a vape shop nowadays. They’re everywhere,” Farmer said.

John Dillon Resigns From UM Shore Regional Health Board Of Directors


John Dillon, chairman of the University of Maryland Shore Regional Health Board of Directors, has announced his resignation from the Board, effective immediately.

Dillon, whose tenure on the Board was set to end on June 30, 2019, notified the Board of his resignationApril 9, citing his belief that leaving the Board at this time is in the best interest of UM Shore Regional Health to minimize the distraction caused by current discussions regarding University of Maryland Medical System Board relationships.

“With regret, the Board of Directors has accepted John Dillon’s resignation, effective immediately,” says Board Vice Chairman Richard Loeffler. “ We are grateful to John for his years of service to UM Shore Regional Health and appreciate that his decision to step down is in an effort to allow the organization’s Board and leadership to remain singularly focused on our mission to create healthier communities together.”

Richard Loeffler, UM SRH Vice Chair, of Cambridge, will serve as Acting UM SRH Board Chair until July 1, 2019 when new officers are confirmed.


Talbot Special Riders Celebrates Rebranding to Positive Strides


It was a sunny, warm afternoon on March 30, 2019 when over 100 supporters gathered to witness and celebrate the rebranding of Talbot Special Riders to Positive Strides, a Therapeutic Riding Center.

In October 2018, the board of directors voted unanimously to change the organization’s name to better reflect who they are and how they benefit their riders. “We’ve spent the last several months strategizing, planning and working towards this day,” said Kim Hopkins, executive director of Positive Strides.

Caroline County Sheriff Randy Bounds, Positive Strides Executive Director Kim Hopkins, and Caroline County Commissioner Wilbur Levengood (Photo by Greg Sharp).

“We celebrated the day with our volunteers, donors, corporate sponsors, clients, caregivers, community partners, and local and state leaders,” said Hopkins. “Their support has allowed us to provide life-changing therapies to residents of the Eastern Shore with physical, cognitive and emotional challenges.“ Dignitaries in attendance included Senator Addie Eckardt, Caroline County Commissioner Wilbur Levengood and Caroline County Sheriff Randy Bounds.

The new name, Positive Strides, reinforces the confidence, self-esteem and optimism that riders achieve through its programs. From autism and addiction recovery to PTSD and cerebral palsy, equine therapy can play a powerful role in giving a person the confidence and skills they need to live a fulfilling life. The CATCH Rider program helps youth at risk and adults recovering from family violence and sexual abuse. Just brushing and interacting with a horse can calm a person with dementia or help someone with depression.

As part of the rebrand, Positive Strides launched a new website and updated its Facebook page

About Positive Strides
Founded in 1981, Positive Strides’ mission is to build confidence, self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment for individuals with physical, cognitive and emotional needs by utilizing equine-assisted activities and therapies. It is a registered nonprofit organization and an active member of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International.

UM Shore Regional Health Earns Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval


University of Maryland Shore Regional Health has announced that it has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for Hospital Accreditation by demonstrating continuous compliance with its performance standards. A symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to providing safe and effective patient care, the Gold Seal of Approval® applies to UM Shore Regional Health’s three hospitals, Shore Emergency Center at Queenstown, the Cancer Center, two home care agencies,  two ambulatory surgery centers, and inpatient and outpatient behavioral health programs.

UM Shore Regional Health underwent a rigorous, unannounced onsite survey in November, 2018. During the review, a team of Joint Commission expert surveyors evaluated compliance at all sites with standards related to several areas, including emergency management, environment of care, infection prevention and control, leadership, and medication management.

“UM Shore Regional Health is pleased to achieve re-accreditation from The Joint Commission, the premier health care quality improvement and accrediting body in the nation,” said Ken Kozel, president and CEO. “Team members from our three hospitals and many outpatient facilities throughout the five county region we serve work together to adopt and implement best-practice approaches that will improve care for our patients and enhance the health of our communities. I am grateful to our Medical Staff and volunteers, our Board, and staff members at all levels of our organization for their continued commitment to making Shore Regional Health ‘Where the Health of the Eastern Shore Comes First.’”

The Joint Commission has accredited hospitals for more than 60 years. More than 4,000 general, children’s, long-term acute, psychiatric, rehabilitation and specialty hospitals currently maintain Joint Commission accreditation, which is awarded for a three-year period. In addition, approximately 360 critical access hospitals maintain accreditation through a separate program. The Joint Commission’s hospital standards are developed in consultation with health care experts and providers, measurement experts and patients. The standards are informed by scientific literature and expert consensus to help hospitals measure, assess and improve performance

“Joint Commission accreditation provides hospitals with the processes needed to improve in a variety of areas from the enhancement of staff education to the improvement of daily business operations,” said Mark G. Pelletier, RN, MS, chief operating officer, Division of Accreditation and Certification Operations, The Joint Commission. “In addition, our accreditation helps hospitals enhance their risk management and risk reduction strategies.”

Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. An independent, nonprofit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Learn more about The Joint Commission at

As part of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), University of Maryland Shore Regional Health is the principal provider of comprehensive health care services for more than 170,000 residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. UM Shore Regional Health’s team of more than 2,500 employees, medical staff, board members, and volunteers works with various community partners to fulfill the organization’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.

Mid-Shore Health: Compass Regional Hospice Adds Palliative Care


Since 1985, Compass Regional Hospice has been serving the Mid-Shore of Maryland with perhaps one of the most challenging moments for human beings; the management of the end of one’s life.

Through their extensive coverage in Caroline, Kent, and Queen Anne’s Counties, Compass has developed a well-deserved reputation for exceptional in-patient care for those in need as well as an extensive commitment to in-home support for those with a life expectancy of six months or less.

But like any institution with a special mission, the board and staff of Compass knew that something important was missing from their long list of services. A few years ago, after an extensive strategic planning process, the organization concluded that to serve their communities, a palliative care program must also be added.

Palliative care is entirely different from hospice care. It is an interdisciplinary approach to care for people with life-limiting illnesses rather than a terminal condition. Those benefiting from this specialized approach are provided relief from the symptoms, pain, physical stress, and mental stress at any stage of a chronic illness with remarkable improvements in quality of life.

To understand more about the significant change at Compass, the Spy sat down with Compass’s executive director, Heather Guerieri and the organized newly appointed medical director, to understand what this means for the communities they serve.

This video is approximately eight minutes in length. For more information about Compass Regional Hospice please go here.

UM SMC Imaging Department Plans for New, State of the Art CT Scanner


UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown’s diagnostic imaging department will soon be undergoing renovation in preparation for the arrival of a GE Revolution EVO CT scanner, Penny Olivi, Shore Regional Health’s director, Diagnostic Imaging has announced.

According to Olivi, the new CT scanner will serve as a state-of-the-art diagnostic tool for patients in emergency and acute care, and also for outpatients. CT scans help diagnose illnesses as well as damage involving the brain and other soft tissue in patients suffering strokes, heart attacks, trauma to the abdomen, shortness of breath, blood clots in the lung, gastrointestinal bleeding and generalized pain.

Says Olivi, “We selected the GE Revolution EVO CT scanner because it provides the greatest clinical benefit, in terms of its advanced imaging capacity as well as its shorter scan times that reduce the patient’s radiation exposure. This state-of-the-art equipment also provides the capability to perform significantly advanced brain profusion studies so that patients can either be treated immediately with a clot-busting drug or if necessary, transported to a neurosurgery center. Also, because CT scans provide more detailed images than X-rays, the GE Revolution EVO CT scanner will be an effective tool in many types of cancer diagnosis.”

The majority of the purchase of the GE Revolution EVO CT scanner and the suite renovation is funded by UM Shore Regional Health’s Board-designated fund, SRH Fund for Kent County, which includes the proceeds from the sale of Shore Nursing and Rehabilitation Center at Chestertown in early 2018 and the prior sale of three properties on Valley Road in Chestertown.

According to Barrie Meima, Chester River Health Foundation board chair, the Foundation will be raising funds to support the cost of the project. “This equipment represents a key advancement in the access to quality care here in Chestertown,” says Meima. “For those needing the scan on an outpatient basis, it will eliminate the need to travel outside the county, and for those in emergency or acute care, it will help speed diagnosis and treatment, and in many cases, save lives. All of us on the Foundation Board are excited about this technology’s capabilities and looking forward to receiving charitable support from the community to help realize the scanner’s full potential.”

So that there will be no interruption of CT scanning services in Chestertown, a temporary, a mobile CT unit is being installed adjacent to the hospital while the renovation, installation and licensing of the new unit is being completed. Arrival and set-up of the mobile unit is scheduled during the week of March 18, 2019.

As part of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), University of Maryland Shore Regional Health is the principal provider of comprehensive health care services for more than 170,000 residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. UM Shore Regional Health’s team of more than 2,500 employees, medical staff, board members, and volunteers works with various community partners to fulfill the organization’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.

For All Seasons Wraps Up Successful 9th Annual Heart & Music


For All Seasons recently presented its 9th Annual Heart & Music at the Oxford Community Center to large crowds for its Gala and all three show performances.  This year, Director Ed Langrell and Music Director Ellen Barry Grunden returned with “Songs from the Stage” from Broadway and Beyond with selections by Carole King, Sara Bareilles, and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, as well as special guests from Crashbox Theatre Troupe. Producers for the show were Beth Anne Langrell and Lisa Roth.

L-R: Delia Denny, Beth Anne Langrell, Executive Director of For All Seasons, and Diane Flagler, Heart & Music Committee Chair. Photo by Randy Bachand.

This year’s Heart & Music cast included Gail Aveson, Jane Copple, Matt Folker, Marcia Gilliam, Bill Gross, Malley Hester, Beth Anne Langrell, Ed Langrell, Lisa Roth, Zack Schlag, Heather Scott, Mike Sousa, Shelby Swann, Joe Tyler, Becca Van Aken, and Richard Vitanovec.  Crashbox Theatre Troupe members included Sarah Anthony, Sara Chapple, Logan Herron, Aiden Loeser, Sophie McGee, Jaylen Nixon, and Seth Wagner.

A special thank you to the Heart & Music Angels, Dock Street Foundation, Laurie and Michael Frame, Price Rentals and Events, and What’s Up Media.

Heart & Music benefits For All Seasons, the only non-profit Behavioral Health and Rape Crisis Center serving the five counties of Maryland’s Mid-Shore.  For All Seasons offers individual and group therapy, general, child and adolescent therapy, marriage and couples’ counseling, grief counseling, school-based mental health therapy, urgent care services, Rape Crisis Response, Rape Crisis Counseling and Support, 24-Hour English and Spanish Hotlines, and education and outreach programming. For further information about For All Seasons or make a donation, call 410-822-1018 or visit

Qlarant Foundation Awards Additional Grants to Maryland Nonprofits


Qlarant Foundation, the mission arm of Qlarant, who recently awarded $385,000 in grants to 14 organizations in Maryland and Washington, DC supporting local healthcare-related quality improvement efforts, has now given an additional $4000 to two of those grantees.

A portion of the new grants were awarded to Cambridge-based Eastern Shore Wellness Solutions whose mission is to provide self-management training for individuals living with chronic disease. The organization is also a resource for the social determinants of health, including housing, food and transportation. Eastern Shore Wellness Solutions will use the funds to provide continued education training for their Community Health Workers and Peer Support Specialists.

A child receives free asthma services and preventative care on the University of Maryland’s Breathmobile.

The University of Maryland Medical System Foundation’s Breathmobile will also receive grant funding in order to purchase long-needed medical equipment. The Breathmobile’s current portable spirometer, used to measure the lung function of children at every visit, is almost 12 years old and in need of replacement. The estimated cost for a new spirometer is $2,000. The Breathmobile provides free asthma care services to underserved Baltimore City children and has been supported by grants from Qlarant Foundation in each of the last three years.

“The work these organizations do is outstanding and often goes unnoticed,” said Dr. Molly Burgoyne-Brian, Qlarant Foundation Board chair. “We are proud to provide both funding and encouragement to the many volunteers and staff members who serve the community so well.”

About Qlarant

Qlarant is a not-for-profit nationally respected leader in fighting fraud, waste & abuse, improving program quality, and optimizing performance. The company uses subject matter experts and innovative data science and technology to help organizations see risks, solve problems, and seize opportunities. Solutions are customized for health and human services organizations, government agencies, and financial and insurance companies. Qlarant employs nearly 500 people and has a 45-year record of accomplishment improving the performance of some of the Nation’s most important programs. In addition, the Qlarant Foundation has provided over $4.5 million in grants throughout Maryland and Washington D.C.. Qlarant is an AgileCxo Transformation Partner.

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Pat Boos at 410.819.3553 or email at  For more information and to view the video go to

Local Hospice Agencies Team Up to Host Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day


Coastal Hospice and Palliative Care, Compass Regional Hospice and Talbot Hospice recently teamed up to organize a free event for veterans —  Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day, which will take place March 30 in Easton.

The ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 30, at the Easton High School cafeteria, 723 Mecklenburg Ave. Event organizers said the day is a way to recognize and commemorate the sacrifices of Vietnam veterans and their families. It is part of a national effort to recognize the men and women who were denied a proper welcome upon returning home more than 40 years ago.

The special guest speaker will be Maj. Gen. James A. Adkins, who was born in Cambridge and grew up on the Eastern Shore. Adkins has nearly 40 years of military service with the U.S. Army. He is a retired senior military officer and former cabinet-level official in state government and served as Maryland’s Adjutant General and Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Adkins has received many military decorations, including the Legion of Merit and the Distinguished Service Medal. Among his many scholarly accomplishments, he has received senior military education at the U.S. Army Command; General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; and the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. He also is a graduate of Washington College in Chestertown, where he received his master’s degree in history.

Adkins is a member of many veteran-centric organizations, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and the Vietnam Veterans of America.

In addition to special guest speakers, the event will include special music; local, state and national resources for veterans; a pinning ceremony; and light refreshments. Trained grief counselors will be on hand from each hospice agency, in order to offer support to those who may wish to seek comfort during the day, as it is not uncommon for many veterans, their families and community members to experience a high degree of emotions when recalling times of war or military service.

Other special inclusions during the day will be a performance from the Easton High School Color Guard and a visit from the Hogs and Heroes Foundation MD-8 Salisbury, a community of motorcycle riders that support public safety, the U.S. military and Wounded Warriors.

The event is free and open to anyone who wishes to thank our Vietnam veterans for their service. To learn more about the event or to register, visit or call Katie Willis at 443-262-4100, ext. 177.

All three organizations are partners in the We Honor Veterans program, a campaign developed by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Through the We Honor Veterans program, Coastal Hospice and Palliative Care, Compass Regional Hospice and Talbot Hospice gratefully acknowledge their military and service men, women and families. The mission of the program is to serve the nation’s veterans, who have served their country so selflessly, during their end-of-life journey.

Coastal Hospice and Palliative Care serves Dorchester, Wicomico, Somerset, and Worcester counties; Compass Regional Hospice serves Queen Anne’s, Kent and Caroline counties; and Talbot Hospice serves Talbot County.

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