Texas could increase the legal smoking age to 21 following a vote Tuesday by state House representatives.
The Texas Senate approved the bill more than a month ago. If the chambers reconcile the different versions and Gov. Greg Abbott signs the legislation into law, Texas would be the 14th state to raise the legal smoking age to 21, according to the Texas Tribune.
In recent years, public health advocates across the country have been pressuring state lawmakers to increase the legal age for purchasing tobacco products to 21 in what has been dubbed the “Tobacco 21” movement. They argue that young people are uniquely susceptible to tobacco’s addictive effects. They also say that many high school students are able to start smoking because they can easily obtain cigarettes from 18-year-olds. The law would presumably make access for minors more difficult. A 16-year-old high school sophomore might have no trouble getting cigarettes from an 18-year-old senior, but would be less likely to know a 21-year-old who can provide them, advocates say.
The Texas bill also bans the sale of e-cigarettes and all other tobacco products to those under age 21.
“It’s just a very logical, common sense type of action, in our opinion,” Ernest Hawk, M.D., MPH, vice president and division head for Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, told TMC Pulse in 2017. “It would advance public health and save money. There’s little argument against it, in our opinion.”
Hawk said the biggest impact of increasing the smoking age to 21 would be on youngsters 15 to 17. Data shows that more than 90 percent of smokers in those age groups get their cigarettes from their slightly older peers.
“It puts more distance between people who are true minors,” Hawk said.
Polling from the Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute shows widespread support for the legislation. In 2018, the think tank surveyed 1,000 Texans and found that 83 percent supported banning the sale of all tobacco products to people under the age of 21. It also found that 57 percent of respondents supported banning the sale of tobacco products altogether.
An elevated age of purchase has won the endorsement of dozens of entities, from the American Heart Association to the Institute of Medicine. In 2016, a New England Journal of Medicine op-ed called the proposal “an idea whose time has come.” Just two days ago, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed similar legislation into law. Last week, Walmart announced it would raise the age for purchasing tobacco products in its stores to 21. And last month, federal lawmakers introduced bipartisan legislation in the U.S. House and Senate that would raise the nation’s legal age for purchasing tobacco products to 21.
“Finding a place where there’s really potential to find common ground, in the interest of health, is pretty exciting to me,” Stephanie Morain, M.D., MPH, assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine’s Center for Medical Ethics & Health Policy, said in a previous TMC Pulse interview.
A deep dive of the polling data reveals strong support for Tobacco 21 not only across political parties but across racial, educational and income groups.
“Policymakers interested in enacting Tobacco 21 laws should be heartened by strong public support at the state level, regardless of demographic, health status or political characteristics,” wrote Morain along with Jean Raphael, M.D., MPH, associate professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Child Health Policy and Advocacy and Arthur Garson, M.D., MPH, director of the Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute, in a study published by Nicotine & Tobacco Research.
“Policymakers from both sides of the political aisle can support these laws, without fear of voter backlash,” the authors concluded.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Fallmas 🍁 https://t.co/EJBUpO8ert
This spiced beet salad is a sure crowd-pleaser to bring to your #holiday gathering. Get the recipe here: https://t.co/V65Qt0OcnM. #healthyfood https://t.co/VsuU5nrMn0
Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Boris A. Stern, who fought at the Battle of the Bulge and Battle of the Rhineland during World War II: https://t.co/4GVemb8y4p
Dr. Lisa Gaw, pediatrician and director at Texas Children’s Urgent Care Westgate, weighs in via @austin360: https://t.co/krYY7O3tuR
RT @austin360: The holidays are upon us, and so is the increased eating and the risk of choking. Make sure you know what to do ⤵ https://t.…
RT @LinaHidalgoTX: Today I toured the Texas Children’s Hospital @TexasChildrens to learn about the incredible work that they do. The amazin…
How is your social media habits effecting your kids? Dr. Laurel Williams explains. https://t.co/04xUcmpG93 #socialmedia #mentalhealth
RT @ARosen380: True honor and privilege to present today on our work in Colorectal Cancer Outreach and education at @BCMCancerCenter at @NC…
RT @BCMCancerCenter: Did you know today is World Pancreatic Cancer Day? Learn more about our clinical trials for this disease. https://t.co…
Do economic factors contribute to heart disease death rates? A preliminary study says heart disease deaths increased in counties hit hard by the 2008-09 recession. https://t.co/TkD0lBZn0z via @UPI
MD Anderson Cancer Center@MDAndersonNews
“Don’t delay seeing a doctor if you think something’s wrong. You know your body better than anyone else,” says Herman Connor, a #kidneycancer survivor: https://t.co/O3s3i59PMl #endcancer https://t.co/pmH1LDTmGT
University of Houston@UHouston
We are excited to announce a virtual tour that will allow you to explore campus like never before. Check it out now on our homepage or the UH Go Mobile App. #GoCoogs! https://t.co/MfuoO4vMB8
MD Anderson Cancer Center@MDAndersonNews
@wfpinky @cher @benatargiraldo Safe travels, Marissa.
RT @RiceUNews: We can’t yet build with unlimited piles of diamond, no. But @RiceUniversity researchers have figured out the next best thing…
Harris Health System@harrishealth
More than 34 million Americans smoke, and smoking remains the largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. Smoking causes an estimated 480,000 deaths every year. Make the decision to quit smoking today! #GreatAmericanSmokeouthttps://t.co/n4c7C3vqTp https://t.co/ebXcuhTouS