EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Next week the legal age to buy tobacco products in Texas will rise to 21.
Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill earlier this year, making Texas the 18th state in the country to pass what many refer to as Tobacco 21. The law will go into effect on Sept. 1 for all of Texas.
The YMCA of El Paso has been pushing for this to go in to effect with their El Paso Smoke Free Initiative. According to YMCA officials, the main goal of Tobacco 21 is to get tobacco products out of the hands of children.
“Youth here in our community are accessing tobacco products,” said Annette Torres with the YMCA El Paso Smoke Free Initiative.
According to the American Lung Association, 94 percent of adult smokers had their first cigarette before turning 21.
“Their moods and their behaviors and looking at what they consider risky behaviors, those are all things that are affected by the intake of nicotine,” said Torres. “Our brains don’t stop developing until we are approximately in our mid 20’s when you look at the difference between a 15-year-old and a 22-year-old, there is a considerable amount of life that happens in that time period.”
However, there will be some exceptions to the law.
Active duty military will be able to purchase tobacco products with their military ID. As well as anyone who is currently 18 to 20.
“If you’ve turned 18 and you’ve been using nicotine products for quite some time, it’s incredibly difficult to quit cold turkey,” said Torres. “One of the implications that medical professionals were looking at was how you wean somebody off at that age.”