AUSTIN, Texas — Texas became the 15th state to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products from the federal minimum of 18 to 21, with Connecticut not far behind, according to news reports.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 21 into law May 31, which will prohibit the sale of cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products (OTP) to customers under age 21, according to CNN. People in the military are exempt. The law, which is set to take effect Sept. 1, is a Class C misdemeanor carrying a fine of up to $500.
In Connecticut, the Senate approved a similar measure on May 31 that now awaits the signature of Gov. Ned Lamont, who has pledged to sign it, according to The Connecticut Mirror. That law would take effect in October.
Texas joins 14 other states that have raised the legal purchase age for tobacco products to 21. Those states are Arkansas, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Several retailers, including Rite-Aid, Walgreens and Walmart, have raised the age of purchase for tobacco to 21 at their stores, while lawmakers in both houses of Congress have initiated measures to raise the minimum age federally.
Most recently, Beverly Hills, Calif., became the first U.S. city to outlaw tobacco sales in virtually all retail locations, causing controversy among retailers in that jurisdiction.
Generally, those in the c-store channel raised concerns over the trend, but the movement has received many unlikely supporters, including two major tobacco manufacturers: Richmond, Va.-based Altria Group and London-based British American Tobacco.