Texas Tries to Raise Smoking/Tobacco Age

Bre Williams, Staff News Repackager

Texas Democrats for the past ten years have been trying to get the legal smoking age of tobacco raised to 21. Opponents say that raising the minimum smoking age to 21 can be a  huge lose of taxes for the state, but others argue that the state will eventually save money on health care costs.

Carl Uresti has been trying to get the smoking age raised since 2007. This year, he is trying again. When he made his first proposal on this topic, he only tried to raise the smoking age from 18 to 19. He has tried 4 other times. In 2009 he got his bill through the Texas Senate but it died in the House before he could give his proposal.

Uresti is not the only person to write a bill on legal smoking age–Donna Howard and Joan Huffman have each filed similar bills since 2007.

Texas smoking rates are lower than the country’s average due to increased taxes on cigarettes and anti-smoking campaigns around the country. 15.9 percent of adults admitting to the habit in 2013.

Currently more than 36.5 million people smoke cigarettes in America.

Another 16 million people have a smoking-related disease. Thus being, Texas will save money in the long run because they don’t have to spend extra money on people who have smoke related illnesses and diseases.

According to the to the Department of state health services the state could save over $405 million  over five years. The department estimates that the state could save $5.6 billion  over 25 years in health care costs.

There are well over 4000 chemicals that make up cigarettes and [at least] 43 of them are known to be cancer causing. Raising the legal smoking age to 21 could reduce 22 percent of tobacco use in adults alone. Half of cigarette users will die due to smoking. Six million people die every year. This figure includes five million smokers, but also about 600,000 non-smokers are exposed to secondhand smoke. It is expected that if there is no action, eight million people will die due to smoking-related illness before the year 2030.

Allen Garcia, a former student at Indian River says that he thinks, “All states should make it so the legal smoking age is 21 as well, because when you are 18 and you know you have the opportunity to try it  you will then you’re hooked. That leads to medical costs and illnesses, so it’s better to have a older age when you’re more aware of what smoking will do to your body and health.”