Only Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature is required for Texas to join more than a dozen states in requiring purchasers of cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products to be 21 years old.
On Tuesday, the Senate agreed to House changes and sent Abbott a bill that would raise the legal sales age for such products from 18. The vote was 27-4.
Voting against were Republican Sens. Brian Birdwell of Granbury, Dawn Buckingham of Lakeway, Pat Fallon of Frisco and Angela Paxton of McKinney. Eight senators who voted against the bill on initial passage last month, including Republicans Bob Hall of Edgewood and Kelly Hancock of North Richland Hills, voted for it on Tuesday.
If Abbott signs Senate Bill 21, Texas would be the most populous Southern state to embrace so-called Tobacco 21 or “T21” legislation.
Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, and Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, the respective House and Senate authors of age bump measures, were cheered on by health advocates including the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids as well as a new ally — the nation’s largest tobacco manufacturer, Altria Client Services, Inc., makers of Marlboro cigarettes and other products.
Two years ago, a similar proposal — then opposed by Altria — failed.