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New Bill Seeks To Raise Legal Smoking Age To 21

Flickr user TN Drum Guy

State Senator Carlos Uresti’s proposed SB313 would change the legal smoking age in Texas from 18 to 21. Uresti said his bill is about saving lives and saving money.

"On average, over 24,500 Texas die every year from smoking related illnesses," the senator said, referring to a fact sheet provided by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

The organization also said smoking costs the state of Texas around $5.8 billion in medical costs per year and smoking-related illnesses take more lives than AIDS, illegal drugs, and car crashes combined.

Uresti said banning the practice at a younger age could discourage people from picking it up later in life, and that change could drive down medical costs across the state.

“Image if we could stop or reduce the number of individuals that ever start to smoke. Over time we will save hundreds of millions – if not billions – of dollars and it would help reduce the budget not to mention save lives,” Uresti said.

Uresti’s bill –as its written now-  only changes the age limit to 21 in the Texas Health and Safety Code which would tie the age Texas could smoke with owning a concealed hand gun license and consuming alcoholic beverages.

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules