Senate Bill 21, has found its way through both the Senate and the House, and as of May 21st, 2019 has been officially passed. This bill will raise the minimum legal sale age for any and all tobacco products, including vaping products and electronic cigarettes, from 18 years old to 21.
Newswise reports that the policy will go into effect on September 1st, 2019 and “is an important step toward protecting the health of future generations and reducing the burden of tobacco use in Texas.”
The legislation change was sponsored by physician and Representative John Zerwas with the goal in mind of protecting susceptible young adults from becoming addicted to tobacco-related products.
Representative John Zerwas is quoted by the Austin-American Statesman, “If you get addicted in middle school or high school, as a 14-to 17-year-old, there is less than a 5% chance you will ever kick the habit,” said Zerwas to Texas House members, “The idea here is to…move these harmful things away from the schools so we can prevent addiction by some of our younger citizens out there.”
As reported by Newswise, approximately 95 percent of adult smokers began smoking before they were 21, and a report from the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, an increased age to buy tobacco across the United States would drop smoking rates of the future by 12 percent, and a 10 percent reduction is smoking-related death.
Ernest Hawk, M.D., the vice president and of the Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, told Newswise that, “For every three young people prevented from using tobacco because of this law, there will be one fewer cancer-related death in the future. That is a profound statistic that reinforces the significance of this action. More than any other single thing we can do, lowering tobacco use can save lives, and the evidence suggests this policy will help us toward our mission of eliminating cancer in Texas and beyond.”
According to the Austin-American Statesman, fifteen other states have already increased the age for tobacco purchases and use to 21, with Texas following the trend.
State Representative Matt Schaefer added an amendment to the bill that would allow a military exception that would allow any individual over the age of 18 and under the age of 21 to purchase tobacco products with a valid military ID, even if they aren’t on active duty.
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