The Tobacco 21 movement could soon have a seemingly unlikely state on board: Texas.
On Tuesday, the Texas House of Representatives approved the second reading of its version of S.B. 21 by a 102-36 vote, with one member simply voting present. The bill seeks to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, e-cigarettes and vaping products to 21-years-old, though it came with a handful of amendments to the version passed by the Senate in April. It must still get a third reading and vote, which is scheduled for Wednesday, before it can head back to the Senate where that chamber will consider and possibly agree to those amendments. If that happens, the bill would be sent to Gov. Greg Abbott, who has indicated that he supports the increase.
Among the amendments made are a broader exemption to the increase for members of the military, changing it from active duty members to all members of the military who can produce valid identification. Another amendment would prohibit any further increases to the state minimum by a county, city or town.
If approved, the increase would go into effect on Sept. 1, 2019, however it would not apply to anyone born on or before Aug. 31, 2001. That means that anyone that could legally buy tobacco in the state the day before the law goes into effect—would continue to be allowed to purchase tobacco even after it went into effect. Individuals born after Sept. 1, 2001 would be subject to the new purchasing age.
Texas would join more than a dozen states across the country in enacting such an increase to its tobacco purchasing age.