No Butts About It--San Antonio Today Bans Cig Sales to Those Under 21

San Antonio, today, become the first city in Texas to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21 years old, garnering cheers from the state's public health leaders, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

"Tobacco is, in 2018, the leading cause of preventable deaths and disease in the U.S. and in Texas," Jennifer Cofer at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center says.

And while the move by San Antonio is a first in Texas, the plan has been tried in 340 cities and counties over 21 states.  

California, Oregon, Maine, New Jersey and Hawaii have all raised the smoking age.

Cofer says we're just now getting data to see if the move made a difference. 

 But, on its face, she says it's couldn't not make a dent in smoking rates.

"Ninety-five percent of smokers start before the age of 18," she explains.

The ordinance came after a heated debate earlier this year.  At the time, business owners claimed it would discriminate against mom-and-pop stores.  They were flanked by Councilman Greg Brockhouse, who argued that if 18-year-olds can serve in the military, they should have the right to smoke.

Jesus Azanza is with the Texas Food & Fuel Association.

"We estimate that it could impact local stores anywhere from $30 to $40 thousand a year," he says.

Not only do teenage smokers buy a lot of cigarettes, he says they buy sodas, candy bars and fill up with gas.  

The fear is that, in some parts of San Antonio, they'll literally go across the street into the county shop.


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