AUSTIN, Texas -- State lawmakers are considering legislation to raise the age of tobacco sales from 18 to 21.
- Study: 95 percent of Texas smokers started before age of 21
- Legislation is bipartisan
- Would include vaping liquids and devices
The legislation would apply to vaping liquids or juice, and the devices used to vape them. While health experts say it's a common sense bill aimed at saving lives, others argue the bill is too far-reaching, and not going to solve the problem of early addiction.
There are tens of thousands of vapor flavors on the market, that vary from peppermint to tobacco-flavored.
"Samoa Cookie, this happens to be one of my favorites," said Kenneth Manus, owner of Vapor Basics in Kyle.
Manus attributes kicking his cigarette habit to discovering a vape. But now, more and more young people are using the cigarette alternative.
"We do have a lot of 18, 19, 20 year olds. We have a junior college just around the corner," said Manus.
A recent study shows about 95 percent of Texas smokers say they picked up their first cigarette before turning 21.
"It is about brain development particularly at this early age, and what nicotine does at the brain level to the cells and the receptors, it's very profound. And it sets the life-long course of this disease," said Dallas Doctor John Carlo.
The coalition Texas 21 said nearly 500,000 Texas children alive now will die prematurely from smoking if current trends continue. But Manus said raising the age to purchase tobacco products isn't the answer to helping curb the problem. He said it is about better regulating the amount of nicotine allowed in the products.
"These kids are doing this for the clouds and the flavor, and they're doing tricks and so forth. Let them do it," said Manus.
If the bill passes, Texas would become the eighth state to raise the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. Hundreds of localities already have similar laws in place, including San Antonio.