SAN ANTONIO -- Council members made San Antonio the first city in Texas to raise the legal age for purchasing tobacco from 17 to 21, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
In a 9-2 vote, city council members passed the ordinance Jan. 11, despite concerns over how the new rules may affect small businesses.
In one last-minute change, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District Director Colleen Bridger said the new law will take effect Oct. 1 instead of Aug. 1 as originally planned. This will allow San Antonio officials additional time to talk to surrounding cities, such as Leon Valley, about whether they plan to enact similar measures, the Express-News reported.
Several council members criticized Bridger for not getting more input from merchants or meeting with retailer organizations sooner in the process. Bridger said she had worked to do that in recent months, even meeting with two merchant groups just prior to the vote. Council members Greg Brockhouse and Clayton Perry both voted against the measure, with Brockhouse attempting to secure a 60-day period to obtain more feedback from the community. His attempt to delay the vote failed.
A group of retailers spoke out at City Hall against the measure the day before the vote, according to KSAT, a local ABC affiliate.
About 280 municipalities nationally have approved similar age increases, according to the Express-News. Overall, 2017 saw 28 states consider legislation to raise the legal age to either 19 or 21. Out of the 28 states, three (Oregon, New Jersey and Maine) enacted minimum-purchase-age increases to 21, according to Minneapolis-based NATO. These states join California and Hawaii, which brings the nationwide total to five states.