January 29, 2011 - State Senator Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio has filed a bill for the upcoming legislative session to move the Texas legal age to use and buy tobacco products from 18 to 19 years old, the Star-Telegram reported. Uresti argues that his proposal is an important step in breaking the addiction cycle which tends to begin during a person's teen years. (The 82nd Texas Legislature convened on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011. The legislative session ends on May 30, 2011. The governor has until Sunday, June 19, 2011 to sign bills the legislature passes, veto them or allow them to become law without his signature. - Texas Legislature)
Other states in the country have already implemented the law that a person must be at least 19 years old to purchase and use tobacco products, those states are: Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in every five Texans 18 and older are regular smokers; but by delaying legal access to smoking it can greatly reduce early addiction to nicotine according to further research, but that's hard to do if 18-year-olds are buying the product and sharing it with underage friends, the Star-Telegram stated.
Uresti’s proposed legislation is intended to stop the cycle of underage tobacco addiction in Texas and would also help to keep tobacco products out of the hands of high school students. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3.2 million Texans—almost one in every five Texans 18 years of age and older—is a regular smoker.
Bill Phelps, a spokesman for Phillip Morris, said the company has no comment on the bill.
References: Texas Senator Files a Bill to Raise Legal Age to Purchase Tobacco Products, Convenience Store News, 1/11/2011; Texas Poised To Raise Minimum Age for Use or Purchase of Tobacco to 19 by TOB Editors, TobaccoOutletBusinessOnline.com/blog, 1/17/2011