The Texas House voted to elevate the age restriction on buying, selling and possessing tobacco products from 18 to 21 on July 2, 2019. The bill applies to everyone except military personnel. Texas will become the 14th state to raise the legal age from 18 to 21 and third state to introduce military exemption on it if this bill translates into law.
There are slight differences in the bills passed by the lower chamber and Senate. It will, thus, have to be passed by the lower house first before it can be implemented. On approval from the lower house, the Senate will vote either to clear out the differences in the two bills by appointing a committee or to accept the changes made by the lower house. Either way, the bill will then be sent to Governor for final approval and will come into effect from September 1, 2019.
The bill was sponsored by State Rep. John Zerwas, who is also a physician. He stated that “the idea behind this bill is essential to move that risk away from those people that are most susceptible to it”. So age restriction should work well in keeping this population away from tobacco & vaping products, cigarettes and most importantly the e-cigarettes.
State Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler introduced the military exemption in the bill on the floor. This exemption makes all military members over the age of 18 and possessing a vail ID eligible to possess and use cigarettes, e-cigarettes as well as other substitute products. Before this bill, only in-service military members were allowed to buy these products.
To ensure maximum efficacy, the State Rep. Briscoe Cain also made an amendment to the bill that would preempt any changes by a local government to the State law, thus further ensuring that these measures stay well in place.
These legislations by Texas House are an attempt in line with the course of action of the national government to cut down the tobacco and nicotine usage in conjunction with other measures like increased taxes, and licensing and registration.