smoking.jpg

Gallup and Healthways have released data from the first half of 2011 that shows which states have the highest and lowest percentage of smokers.

Texas teens will now have to wait a couple more years before they can legally light that first cigarette.

Under Senate Bill 21, the legal smoking age in Texas rises from 18 to 21 with the exception of military personnel. The law took effect Sunday.

The bill was fathered by Republican Sen. Joan Huffman in an attempt to distance tobacco products and e-cigarettes from school settings.

“Honestly, I think if you’re old enough to serve our country and vote, you should be able to smoke if you so choose to,” Seguin Cigar owner Lisa Schraub said.

Schraub says that she has never caught an underage teen attempting to buy products from her store. However, if underage teens wish to smoke, Schraub believes stopping the kids that do will be a difficult battle.

“We do ID, but I think that if people under the age of 21 want to smoke, they’re going to get them anyway,” Schraub said. “And I don’t know how they’re going to stop that. I mean, obviously, the drug laws haven’t worked very well. But I also live in a small town where morals are higher than I think the bigger cities.”

Amsterdam Smoke Shop employee Augusdine Gill says the new law will negatively affect the shop’s business, however, he believes raising the legal age is for the benefit of all teens.

“Actually, this law is very good,” Gill said. “I think after the law is passed, we’ll see even fewer youngsters trying to come in and buy tobacco. I strongly feel that this law is good for the young, and maybe it will even cause them (teens) to shy away from smoking tobacco, and smoking e-cigarettes, kids seem to be using those a lot. We might lose a little bit of business from the 18-year-olds, and 20-year-olds, but we will be ok.”

Gill said that in the past he has seen his fair share of high school students attempting to bypass the former 18-year-old restriction.

“We catch them all the time,” he said. “All the time they’re trying to give us false information, or they come in and say, ‘I don’t have an ID,’ or ‘I’m 18, but I don’t have an ID with me,’ but it never works because we check for ID. Hopefully, with this new law, that will change.”

Recommended for you