The Texas House, on July 2, 2019, voted to raise the legal age to buy, sell or possess tobacco products to 21 from 18. This bill exempts military personnel.
The lower chamber passed the bill after a month and a half from the Senate’s approval of slightly different legislation. The Bill will now have to be approved by the House before it can be implemented. The Senate will then decide to either appoint a committee to reach an agreed form of the bill or to accept the changes made by the lower house and send the bill to Governor for approval. The legislation would come into effect from September 1, 2019.
The State Rep. John Zerwas, who is also a physician stated that this measure would shield the young adults and teenagers who are highly vulnerable from falling for this addictive habit. Zerwas added that to keep tobacco and similar products away from the susceptible population is the main idea behind the bill.
Texas is in the line for becoming the 14th state to raise the legal age to 21 to buy and purchase tobacco products and the third state to incorporate military exemptions, if this bill goes on to become a law. This age restriction would apply to all tobacco, nicotine and substitute products including e-cigarettes accessories.
The military exemption was extended on the floor by State Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, adding that all members of the military over the age of 18 having a valid ID were exempted from buying and possessing tobacco products. Previously the military members only on active duty were allowed to buy tobacco products.
An amendment to the bill was also made by the State Rep. Briscoe Cain that would preempt any changes to the State law by any local government.
The recent legislation made by Texas House is in line with the national agenda to discourage the use of tobacco and nicotine by means of various steps like higher taxation, age restriction and licensing, etc.