Texas joins 14 states in raising minimum tobacco sales age to 21

By Allen Cone
Texas joins 14 states in raising minimum tobacco sales age to 21
Texas will raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 on Sept. 1. Photo by psja1000/pixabay

June 9 (UPI) -- Texas will become the 15th state to raise the minimum age to purchase all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21.

On Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott signed the legislation, which takes effect Sept. 1. Those in the military will still be able to buy the products if they are 18-20.


Anyone caught breaking this new law will face a Class C misdemeanor and a fine of up to $500.

Illinois' governor signed similar legislation in May. The New York Senate passed legislation on April 1 the governor is expected to sign.

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Other states raising the law are Arkansas, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, according a tally by the American Lung Association. Also hundreds of cities and counties have raised the minimum age.

And last month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell formally introduced legislation to raise the age nationwide.

"Delaying the age when young people first begin to use tobacco -- the leading cause of preventable death -- will reduce the risk they will develop a deadly addiction," Shelby Massey, the Texas Government Relations director for the American Heart Association, told KXAN-TV.

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About 95 percent of adult smokers begin smoking before they turn 21, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-free kids.

In Texas, 7.4 percent of high school students smoke and more than 10 percent use e-cigarettes, according to the Texas21 Coalition, who says 498,000 Texas kids alive now will ultimately die prematurely from smoking.

Nationally, 27.1 percent of high school students and 7.2 percent middle school students used a tobacco product in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a report released in February.

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E-cigarette usage climbed 78 percent in one year, the CDC said.

Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, about 70 of which can cause cancer, and nearly all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, contain nicotine, according to the CDC.

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