AUSTIN (KXAN) — A bill proposing to raise the age of tobacco sales from 18 to 21 in Texas will be heard in the House Public Health committee Wednesday and will include the purchase of e-cigarettes.
House Bill 749 and Senate Bill 21 will join Senate Bill 1332 as legislation aimed at stopping tobacco sales to Texans under the age of 21.
“It’s time for our state to do what it can to protect our youth from a lifetime of nicotine addiction, from a lifetime struggling with chronic disease, and from a lifetime cut short because of tobacco,” said Dr. John Carlo, chairman of the Texas Public Health Coalition and member of the Texas Medical Association’s Council on Legislation. “It’s time for T21.”
Seven states have raised the legal minimum tobacco sale age to 21, along with at least 430 Texas communities, including San Antonio.
A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that e-cigarette use grew nationally by 1.5 million kids between 2017-2018, erasing past progress in reducing youth tobacco use. The U.S. Surgeon General issued an advisory declaring e-cigarette use among youth “an epidemic.”
About 95 percent of smokers start before age 21. In Texas, 7.4 percent of high school students smoke and over 10 percent use e-cigarettes, while 10,400 kids become daily smokers every year. Nearly half a million Texas kids alive now will ultimately die prematurely from smoking if current trends continue, according to the Texas 21 report.