18 to 21: Raising the Tobacco Sales Age
Raising the tobacco sales age from 18 to 21 to reduce tobacco use among youth and young adults.
Approximately 95% of smokers started smoking before they reached the age of 21.
In Texas over 12,300 kids become daily smokers every year. In El Paso the youth smoking rate for cigarettes is around 16% and approximately 14% for e-cigarette use.
It is estimated approximately 2,331 El Paso 18 year-olds will be prevented from becoming smokers because of Texas Tobacco 21.
This law is about keeping tobacco, including e-cigarettes and vaping devices, out of the hands of youth and out of schools. Not just high schools but middle schools as well.
Nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs you can use.
Nicotine exposure during adolescence may have long-lasting effects such as increased impulsivity and mood disorders. It may also have long-term effects on the parts of the brain responsible for addiction, learning, and memory. To learn more about this youth, nicotine, and cessation click here.
The aim of this law is to decrease use among those who should not be using nicotine, to begin with. A National Academy of Medicine report found that among 15 to 17-year-olds, there was an approximate 25% decrease in the initiation of tobacco use with an increase in the tobacco sales age to 21 years.
A primary source of tobacco products for underage smokers are relatives, friends, and strangers that are close in age.
Because of laws like Texas Tobacco 21 approximately 2,331 El Paso 18 year-olds will be prevented from a life-time of nicotine addiction.
On average, American youth try smoking for the first time at age 13.7.
In Texas in 2017, 7.4% of high school students identified as a current smoker. For current electronic vapor product use, the number was 16.8%.
In 2017, the Texas Youth Risk Behavior Survey reported that 23.9% of 16-17 year olds who reported current cigarette use during the past 30 days got their own cigarettes by buying them in a store or gas station.
To find more data and information click here.
Texas Tobacco 21 is the new law that regulates tobacco sales and penalties in Texas effective September 1, 2019.
It requires anyone who appears under the age of 30 to present ID (up from the age of 27).
A violation by someone purchasing or attempting to purchase cigarettes, e-cigarettes, or tobacco products is punishable by:
- a fine not to exceed $100 and/or
- a court-ordered tobacco awareness class and/or
- community service hours
A violation by someone knowingly purchasing, attempting to purchase or providing cigarettes, e-cigarettes, or tobacco products to a minor is punishable by up to a $500 fine and is classified as a Class C misdemeanor.
Parents are no longer legally able to provide cigarettes, e-cigarettes, or other tobacco products to a minor child.
Those born before August 31, 2001, are exempt from the new tobacco law.
Also, a valid U.S. military identification (federal or state) can be used by persons under 21 years of age but older than 18 years of age to purchase tobacco products.
The Texas law that raised the age limit became effective on September 1, 2019.
A new federal Tobacco 21 law was signed by the President in December 2019. The FDA has 180 days from December 21, 2019 to release the new rules.
Once the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) releases the final rules regarding the new federal law the information will be posted here. For now, the Public Health Law Center at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law published a blog The New Federal Tobacco-21 Law: What it Means for State, Local, and Tribal Governments to help answer questions.
To ensure tobacco retail and vape shop owners have the tools to comply with the Texas Tobacco 21 law we have produced a Retailer Tool-Kit with a Reference Guide and Retailer Infographic for download (see link below).
The City of El Paso Department of Public Health and the Prevention Resource Center at Aliviane, Inc. both conduct retail education visits througout the year. We are working with both of these organization to offer retailers material to help them comply with the new law.
The Office of Tobacco Enforcement at the Texas Comptroller website has more information for tobacco and vape shop owners. Visit by clicking here: Texas Comptroller
E-cigarette use among both youth and young adults has increased considerably in recent years. About one-quarter of U.S. youth and young adults have ever tried e-cigarettes.
The brain is the last organ in the human body to develop fully. Brain development continues until the early to mid-20s. Nicotine exposure during periods of significant brain development, such as adolescence, can disrupt the growth of brain circuits that control attention, learning, and susceptibility to addiction.
While it is true, that researchers are still trying to learn more about how e-cigarettes affect health there is sufficient evidence to justify efforts to prevent e-cigarette use by youth and young adults.
The U.S. Surgeon General referred to the use of vaping devices by youth as an epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued multiple statements regarding electronic cigarettes. These include explosions and possible negative health effects such as seizures and respiratory disease.
We know that most (almost 95%) of cigarette smokers had their first cigarette by the time they were 18 years old.
It’s true that kids still listen. To learn more about talking to your kids about electronic cigarettes, click here.
In collaboration with the YMCA of El Paso, the Smoke Free Initiative is working to support your district in educating students about the harms related to tobacco use as well as the change to the minimum legal sales age of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years.
We have created this school tool-kit to support your communication with your schools community during the 2019 Red Ribbon Week.
The tool-kit we are providing to districts in El Paso County is one activity that ensures the message around tobacco is founded in best practices and is targeted to youth.
In this tool-kit we have provided:
- an information sheet for staff and parents;
- social media posts for Red Ribbon Week (including media);
- and a reference sheet with links to additional resources for both administrators and parents.
Did you know that vaping products, like JUULs, that use liquids all provide high concetrations of nicotine? Trust https://truthinitiative.org/.
The penalties at the state level apply to not only the purchase, but the use and possession of tobacco products. You may be able to buy, but if you are underage – 21 years – and caught using a tobacco product or have it in your possession you can be cited under the law.
Do you want to learn more about getting involved in fighting big tobacco? The Texas Say What program is Texas-based and gets you involved in policy in the state and your community. Visit http://txsaywhat.com to learn more.
Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. (2018, January). 21 Reasons to Raise the Tobacco Sale Age to 21 in Texas. Retrieved from Texas 21: www.texas21.org
Crosby, K. (2019). Prevention Teens from Using E-Cigarettes. Youth Tobacco Cessation: Science and Treatment Strategies (p. Slide 11). Washington, D.C.: Institute For Advanced Clinical Trials For Children.
Institute of Medicine. (2015). Public Health Implications of Raising the Minimum Age of Legal Access to Tobacco Products. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.
Texas Health and Human Services, Texas Department of State Health Services. (2018, June 1). Texas Health Data. Retrieved from Texas Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, Year 2017: http://healthdata.dshs.texas.gov/CommunitySurveys/YRBS
Tobacco Twenty One. (2018). Reduce and Prevent Youth Smoking in El Paso Texas. Columbus: Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation.
truth initiative. (2017). Where we stand: Raising the tobacco age to 21. Washington, D.C.: truth initiative.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Surgeon General. (2016). Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. Washington, DC: : HHS.
Wang, T. W. (2016). Harm Perceptions of Intermittent Tobacco Product Use Among U.S. Youth. Journal of Adolescent Health, 750-753.
Winickoff, J. P.-B. (2014, November). Retail Impact of Raising Tobacco Sales Age to 21 Years. American Journal of Public Health, 104(11). Retrieved January 1, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4202948/
Why is this an effective strategy? Youth who have friends and family in close proximity, who can legally use tobacco, are more likely to access tobacco products through these people. Raising the sales age can help reduce or eliminate social access.