Increasing tobacco buying age to 21 a massive victory for public health

HOUSTON — The Houston Health Department applauds Texas lawmakers and Governor Abbott for raising the minimum age to purchase cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products to 21.

“This is a massive victory for public health and has the potential to save millions of lives,” said Dr. David Persse, Houston’s local health authority and EMS medical director. “Reducing youth access to tobacco products will reduce the risk of young people becoming regular tobacco users.”

According to CDC, if cigarette smoking continues at the current rate among youth in this country, 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 will die early from a smoking-related illness.

Tobacco product use is established primarily during adolescence with nearly 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers first try cigarette smoking by age 18, according to CDC.

“Unfortunately, I can say from personal experience that smokers are not the only people affected by the overwhelming pain and suffering caused by tobacco use,” Dr. Persse continued. “The emotional agony of those who see the lives of their loved ones slowly slip away is heartbreaking.”

The law goes into effect September 1 and has an exception for military members.