Today, the Texas Senate approved a series of amendments to S.B. 21 that were made by the House of Representatives in recent weeks, meaning that the tobacco purchasing age bill has been approved by both chambers and will head to Gov. Greg Abbott, who has indicated that he supports the increase.
The two main amendments made by the House include 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. The other would prohibit any further increases to the state minimum by a county, city or town.
Should the governor sign the bill, it 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.
It would also mean that the Tobacco 21 movement has garnered the support of at least three of the six most populous states in the country, joining California and Illinois in passing similar laws, while a bill in New York awaits the signature of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which would bring that number to four of the top six. Florida, the country’s third most populous state, considered a similar bill, passing it in the Senate but with House leadership refusing to let it get to the floor for a vote. In Pennsylvania, the country’s fifth most populous state, a bill has been introduced into the Senate but has not advanced out of committee hearings.