Texas House votes to raise legal smoking age from 18 to 21

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- The Texas House voted Tuesday to raise the legal smoking age from 18 to 21, with the exception of military personnel. The bill still needs final approval in the House, but state senators already passed the bill in April.

State representative John Zerwas, MD, of Richmond, filed House Bill 749, which would make it illegal for businesses to sell cigarettes, e-cigarettes, or other tobacco products to people under the age of 21.

Zerwas is a doctor who says reducing tobacco use is a good public health policy that would also pay "tremendous dividends by preventing diseases that cost the most to treat."

"As a physician, the health-related importance of this proposed legislation can't be denied," Zerwas said in a press release. "As chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, I'd also like to point out that Tobacco 21 isn't just responsible public health policy, but it's also fiscally responsible for the State of Texas."

According to Zerwas' press release, smoking costs the state $8.85 billion every year in direct health care costs.

If the bill is passed, the new smoking age would take effect this September.

You can read the full legislation here.

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