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Governor Abbott Signs Bill, Increases Legal Age to Purchase Tobacco Products

Tobacco is a plant whose leaves are dried and fermented for their use in tobacco products. This plant contains nicotine, a highly addictive substance which creates a dependency on tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars, snuff, and more. In many states, one was required by law to be 18 or older to purchase any of the above--until now.

There is an increasing national push to raise the legal age of purchasing tobacco products. We are seeing a multitude of states raise the age from 18 to 21--an act which will, according to experts, significantly reduce the risk of nicotine addiction. Texas is now the fifteenth state to sign this law into effect, henceforth banning all cigarette, e-cigarette, and tobacco products from being purchased by anyone below the age of 21. This bill goes into effect on September 1, where anyone caught breaking the law will be fined up to $500 while facing a Class-C misdemeanor. As nicotine is actually more addictive than alcohol, the age increase makes sense.

Some more good news? Overall cigarette use has declined significantly among both the youth and adult populations of America. The bad news is that they have simply been replaced by e-cigarettes and JUULs.

This legislation comes at a time when the usage of e-cigarettes & vape products has skyrocketed across the country--an estimated 4.8 million teens used such products in 2018. While these devices are not strictly filled with tobacco, they do in fact contain nicotine--an ingredient which can lead very quickly and easily to addiction. Nicotine is among the top five most addictive substances in the world, coming in right after cocaine and heroin.

Why would so many teenagers and young adults opt to fall into the trap of nicotine addiciton? Well, JUUL products are arguably marketed towards children; from the fun-flavored "pods" that come in flavors like berry, mint, and mango, to their sleek and portable look which bears resemblance to a harmless USB drive, there are a myriad of qualities which appeal to younger crowds. Not to mention that vaping is now deemed a "trendy" and "cool" activity to partake in--just as smoking cigarettes was in the 1960s. Talk about peer pressure!

Will "hitting the JUUL" become a nationwide epidemic? Or have we reached that point already? Here's to hoping that this 21+ ban on tobacco products will initiate some changes--here in Texas and around the United States.