Texas lawmakers seek to raise minimum smoking age to 21

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Texas lawmakers are seeking once again to become the next state to raise the minimum smoking age to 21.

State Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, told the Dallas Morning News on Monday that he believes the bill can get through the Legislature, especially with more Republicans backing the proposal.

State Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, has been trying to convince lawmakers to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products for the last 10 years. Uresti believes this year is the best chance he’s ever had to push the bill through.

“We have as good a chance as we’ve ever had,” Uresti told the Morning News. “I’m just glad. I welcome all the support we can get.”

Texans who use tobacco products has decreased over the last decade, with more than 15 percent of residents admitting they smoke or chew tobacco.

A 2015 report from the National Academy of Medicine says that number could decrease to 12 percent should the minimum age to purchase products is increased.

The state could potentially save money as well because they might have to care for as many people with tobacco-related diseases, according to the Department of State Health Services.

Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, and Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston are also expected to file a bill.

Lawmakers are expected to get some push back in the Legislature. An analysis of Uresti’s past bills shows that Texas could lose up to $100 million in taxes if the age is raised.

Click for more from the Dallas Morning News.