On September 1st, 2019 Texas law makes tobacco and vaping products age restricted to 21, sort of. This new law will be confusing for both retailers and those under 21 currently. In order to get this law passed two key exemptions were added allowing 18-year-old purchases to continue.
First is the exemption for those serving active duty in state or federal military service. The opponents of the age bill’s argument about being old enough to serve and yet not old enough to make an informed decision on vaping or using tobacco products was overcome through this exception. The retailer must check IDs (anyone who appears under 30) to ensure it is valid, and if the person is under 21 the ID must be current and issued by state or United States military forces.
Second is the exception for anyone currently 18 years old. The opponents of this bill pointed out clearly those currently 18 – 20 who choose to vape instead of smoke should not be penalized, they are adults under the current laws of the state. In order to overcome this argument, the bill was altered to include an exception for anyone currently 18 prior to the law going into effect. The law goes into effect September 1st, 2019 so anyone born August 31st, 2001 OR BEFORE will not be impacted, they can legally purchase products. The main challenge they will face is from retailers who fear the ID checking process and will simply choose to raise the age for all their customers instead of risk selling to someone by a single date on their ID.
So, officially, Texas has passed a law that effectively creates an age range for tobacco and vaping products beginning September 1st. Also, it is accurate the legislatures felt a person born August 31st at 11:59 pm were better prepared to make adult choices than their neighbor born Sept. 1st at 12:01 am. Such is the nature of age restriction laws about to go in effect. No matter, it is now going to be law so retailers and consumers should be ready to navigate through the new exceptions.
For those that would like the clear details of these exceptions the best place to look is in the text itself. Here’s a link to the text as signed by Gov. Abbott.