Though legislation to raise the legal age of tobacco sale is being pushed in the U.S. Senate, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is beating them to it, signing into law Senate Bill 21—a bill to raise the age that adults in Texas can legally purchase tobacco products.
Current Texas law allows the sale of tobacco and nicotine products—such as cigarettes, cigars, and e-cigarettes—to anyone 18 and over. That age would now be moved to 21, with only members of the U.S. or state military forces exempted from the restriction.
It’s a bill that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick deemed a top priority for the Senate earlier this year, despite having more support among Democrats than Republicans. In fact, when the Senate voted the bill out of their chamber, most Republicans opposed the bill. A coalition comprised of every Democrat and a minority of Republicans was assembled to ram the legislation through and clear the chamber.
When the bill hit the Texas House, however, it passed with 111 yeas and only 37 nays.
Abbott, who had remained relatively quiet on his support for the legislation, ultimately signed the bill without pomp and circumstance on Friday.
Texas now joins 14 other states—including California, New Jersey, and Vermont—in raising the tobacco age to 21.
At the federal level, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–KY) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D–VA) have introduced legislation to raise the age across the country, though momentum on that bill has stalled in recent weeks.
With Abbott’s signature now official, the changes will go into effect on September 1, 2019.