AUSTIN, Texas — Tobacco is a $2 billion industry in the Lone Star state, but in just a few weeks, big tobacco will have a smaller clientele.
- Must be 21 to buy tobacco
- Law goes into effect September 1
- Doesn’t apply to military members
Beginning September 1, you'll have to be 21 years old to buy cigarettes or e-cigarettes.
The idea behind the new law is to keep these types of products out of the hands of teens and save lives, but some smoke shop owners say they're worried about their bottom-line.
The shelves at Connoisseur Smoke Shop in San Marcos are filled with colorful products that almost resemble fruity candy, but they come with warning labels.
Soon, patrons under the age of 21 will be refused tobacco products unless they're born before or on August 31, 2001 or serve in the military.
Texas will become the 18th state to raise the legal tobacco purchasing age to 21 and the third to include military exemptions. Proponents argue the measure will protect young adults who are they say are highly susceptible to an addiction to tobacco products.
"During these ages we know that addictive behaviors are very, very prominent. A lot of peer pressures that go on during that period of time," Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, said.
But many smoke shop owners now fear being smoked out of business.
"It is going to hurt a lot of people's bottom-line," said David Coby.
Coby says the majority of his clientele is students.
"You could lose three-quarters of your demographic if you're in a college town," Coby said.
Some students say if teens really want it, they'll find a way to get it.
"I mean, no matter what, people are going to find a way to get like vapes or like whatever else, so," student Gabriel Majors said.
Coby says he and his team have signed paperwork acknowledging the mandate and will take it seriously and values health alongside his bottom-line.
"I do recognize it's for the health of younger people, and that's something I can get behind," Coby said.
Along with the 18 states that have raised the tobacco age to 21, at least 450 cities and counties have done so across the country. San Antonio passed such an ordinance last year.