Texas House votes to raise legal smoking age to 21

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The Texas House voted on Tuesday to raise the legal smoking age from 18 to 21, except for military personnel.

Minor adjustments made to the bill on the House floor on Wednesday means the bill still needs to head back to the Senate before it can be sent to the governor.

Local community members are on both sides of the fence about the initial approval to a bill.

“I feel pretty good about it. I wouldn’t mind of all tobacco products were gone,” Linn Bass says.

“Kids are going to keep buying them if they’re 18, just like alcohol,” another parent says.

If passed, Texas would become the 14th state to raise the tobacco-purchasing age and the third to include military exemptions.

“I mean, if they can fight they should be able to do it. Just like drinking. The same thing,” Philip Beaulieu says.

The age restriction would also apply to tobacco products such as e-cigarettes. 

“You would think he will want them as healthy as possible. So you would think to include them in the law,” Bass says.

Advocates for the bill say it’s the leading cause of preventable death in Texas. 

“More than alcohol, accidents, illegal drugs combined. So it is a serious public health concern. And we believe that by raising the age to 21, it’s an effective tool to help combat that use,” says Charlie Gagen, of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

But many still think those underage will find a way.

“I think there’s always going to be a chance that kids are going to be able to get a hold of anything. People are going to make friends. And if there’s a will, there’s going to be a way,” Bass says.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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