Texas has joined a growing number of states in banning the use and sale of tobacco products to those under the age of 21, with an exception to those in the military.
Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed Senate Bill 21 into law on Friday, raising the legal age from 18. The new law, which will go into effect on Sept. 1, includes a ban on e-cigarette sales to those under 21.
Supporters of the ban argued that raising the purchasing age will save lives.
According to a report by the surgeon general, nearly 90 percent of smokers started smoking by the age of 18. The addiction kills more than 1,200 people a day, which is about half the number of youth or young adults who become regular smokers each day.
“Almost no one starts smoking after age 25,” the report states. “The younger youth are when they start using tobacco, the more likely they’ll be addicted.”
Similar bans have been passed in Arkansas, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Hundreds of cities have similar bans, while Beverly Hills, California, last week became the first city to ban tobacco sales to anyone, no matter their age, with exceptions for a few businesses.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has meanwhile blamed e-cigarettes for driving up tobacco use among high school students. Between 2017 and 2018, there was a 38 percent increase in tobacco use among such minors.
E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among youth, ahead of cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, hookah and pipes, the CDC said.
Juul, the manufacturer of the most commonly sold e-cigarettes, has expressed support of banning such sales to youth.