Smoking laws going as far back as the 1800s made the minimum age allowed to smoke 16, in the 1920s age restrictions on the sale of cigarettes were put in place and the minimum age was raised to 21. In the 1960s the age dropped to 18 since people believed that if you were old enough to serve your country, you were old enough to smoke. Due to Senate Bill 21 being passed, on September 1, 2019, the legal smoking age in Texas rose from age 18 to age 21, with the exception of members of the military, as well as Texans who turned 18 before the law went into effect.
The reason for the passage of the bill was to keep cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, and tobacco substances out of schools. It also served a purpose to create a social gap between students who are old enough to buy cigarettes and students who are not. The main reason for the bill was to have kids graduate high school nicotine and tobacco free, and to remove the risk of addiction from highly susceptible people.
This bill tries to focus on the sellers rather than the possessors. It was found that the majority of the people that become addicted to nicotine occur before the age of 21. Many people wanted punishment towards minors caught smoking to be eliminated completely. In the past underaged smokers were fined $250 when penalized, but the new law reduced it to $100 rather than giving no penalty at all. Minors who are also caught smoking will be able to expunge their records once they turn 21. Retailers are also fined $100 to $1000 if they are found to have sold cigarettes to underaged smokers, which has remained the same since the new law was passed. People who also attempt to buy cigarettes for minors will be fined up to $500, and promotions of the illegal substances such as coupons and samples cannot be given to people under the age limit.
The bill, however, does not have the funds to enforce its policy. The money allocated to the bill is primarily for prevention and education. A couple million dollars from the Texas Department of State Health Services will give money to law enforcement agencies in order for them to conduct sting operations as well as perform necessary actions to be taken towards retailers to make sure the policy is upheld. Signs will also be put up in retail stores, and forms will be sent to retail employees stating that they understand the new rules.
If you’ve been injured by cigarettes or smoking, don’t wait to speak with a personal injury lawyer in Arlington, TX about your claim.
Thanks to Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC for their insight into personal injury claims and smoking.