Texas House votes to change legal smoking age to 21

Texas House votes to change legal smoking age to 21

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

If you are 18 or older in Texas, you can legally purchase tobacco products, but that may not be the case anymore. 

The Texas House voted Tuesday to raise the legal age from 18 to 21, passing one of the last hurdles towards final approval. 

This would make Texas the 14th state to pass this law. 

About 500,000 die each year in the United States from the effects of tobacco products, according to the CDC.

From a medical standpoint, George Comiskey, with the Texas Tech Addiction Sciences Center, said it is common sense to change the legal smoking age from 18 to 21. 

"That three years of development and all of the social and emotional tools that come on board can change the trajectory of somebody's life," Comiskey said.

Attorney David Guinn said while the bill sounds good on paper, there will be serious controversy attached to it. 

"At 18, you can vote, you can get married, you can join the military, if you do something bad enough you can get the death penalty, but you can't possess a tobacco product," Guinn said.

He said a provision in the bill to make an exception for military personnel is hypocritical to its purpose.

"If this is really a public health concern and you're worried about addicting young people, why would you do that to our soldiers? Why would you let them be subject to the powers tobacco can have? I understand not fining them, but if it's a public health risk, why carve them out to be subject to that risk?," Guinn said.

The bill is expected to land in conference committee, where it can then be sent to Gov. Abbott for final approval.

The last day of session is May 27.

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