Texas Joins States Considering Tobacco 21

By Angela Garrity 
Halfwheel reports that Texas joins the growing number of states considering Tobacco 21 legislation.

Lawmakers in the Lone Star State will once again consider the idea of raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco and vaping products from 18 years of age to 21. HB 749 amends changes to the current laws regarding the tobacco minimum purchase age and adds ENDS products to a number of sections of the law. It also includes changes in the bill that include prohibited possession of tobacco products and e-cigarettes to 21, as well.

HB 749 was introduced by Representative John Zerwas (R – Katy) as it relates to the distribution, possession, purchase, consumption, and receipt of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and tobacco products.

Interestingly, this proposed bill’s language currently exempts the Tobacco 21 policy from products that are:

(1)Approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for use in the treatment of nicotine or smoking addiction; and

(2)Labeled with a “Drug Facts” panel in accordance with regulations of the United States Food and Drug Administration.

A similar bill, HB1411, was introduced in 2017 but failed to gain enough support for passage. The failed bill appeared to have some support at its introduction, it met the same demise as bills introduced in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015.

Last year, San Antonio became the first city to pass a Tobacco 21 ordinance. Its legality has been challenged by tobacco and convenience store industry trade groups.

Fines up to $500 may be imposed for violators of the Texas law.

Other states considering Tobacco 21 this year include:  New York, New Hampshire, Washington, Vermont, North Dakota, New Mexico, Virginia and Illinois. Delaware is expected to join this lineup soon.

Hawaii, California, Oregon, New Jersey, Maine and Massachusetts already have made 21 the minimum age to purchase tobacco products.

If passed, the Tobacco 21 ordinance for the state of Texas would take effect September 1, 2019.
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