Texas Lawmakers Vote To Raise Age To Buy Cigarettes

Steven Pickering
May 22, 2019 - 8:25 am
cigarette, tobacco products

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DALLAS (KRLD) - Members of the Texas House and Texas Senate have approved a bill that would raise the minimum age to buy cigarettes and e-cigarettes to 21.

"Raising the minimum legal age to 21 for this would help keep cigarettes, e-cigarettes and tobacco products out of Texas public schools...by creating more of a social distance between younger high school students and of-age purchasers," said State Senator Joan Huffman, one of the sponsors of Senate Bill 21.

The House sponsor, State Rep. Dr. John Zerwas, hopes it can reduce the percentage of teens who smoke. "The primary goal is to prevent or delay adolescents and youth from ever starting to use tobacco products," he said.

Hospital executives are applauding the move by the Legislature. "We give kudos to Sen. Huffman and Rep. Zerwas. We're really excited," said Stephen Love with the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council. "We thank Gov. Abbott in advance, hoping he's going to sign this piece of legislation."

Similar measures have been passed in other states, including Arkansas and California. There are indications that raising the smoking age can impact the percentage of people who smoke. "People that don't smoke prior to age 21 likely will not smoke. The percentages go way down as to people who become smokers after age 21 if they haven't smoked previously," Love said.  As for the impact of the legislation in other states, Love said, "The data I have seen is...it's been positive. But for some it's too early to tell, because it has just been enacted."

Illinois lawmakers approved a similar measure this year that will take effect in that state on July 1st. Arkansas recently passed a law that would gradually raise the age for buying tobacco products to 21. It will take effect this fall.