The Texas 21 Coalition – comprised of a number of health organizations – on Thursday praised the House Public Health Committee for passing House Bill 1908 by Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond. HB 1908, which would raise the minimum legal age of tobacco sale to 21 in Texas, has broad bipartisan support with four joint authors and 10 co-authors.

In Texas, more than 13,000 kids become new daily smokers every year and nearly a half-million young Texans (498,000) will die early from a tobacco-related disease without additional action to reduce tobacco use. An estimated 95 percent of smokers start before age 21, making the legislation critical to reduce and eventually eliminate the toll of tobacco.

The following statements in reaction to committee passage of HB 1908 are by member organizations of the Texas 21 Coalition:

Shannon Lucas, regional director of advocacy and government affairs, South Central Region, March of Dimes:

“Raising the minimum age required to purchase tobacco products can significantly improve birth outcomes. For expecting mothers, tobacco use during pregnancy increases the risk of premature delivery and low-birth weight babies.”

JoAnna Strother, regional director of public policy for the American Lung Association of the Southwest:

“This is a critical time to protect our youth and young adults from the dangers of tobacco use and nicotine addiction. The urge to experiment is natural, but that doesn’t mean youth and young adults are seeking to get hooked on tobacco their entire lives. By raising the tobacco sale of age to 21, Texas will take an important step in keeping youth healthy.”

The Texas 21 Coalition includes the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Baylor Scott & White, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, March of Dimes, Texas Academy of Family Physicians, Texas Medical Association, Texas Nurses Association, Texas Pediatric Society and Texas Public Health Coalition. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is present as an educational resource only. More information can be found at Follow the Coalition on Facebook at /texastobacco21 and Twitter at @TexasTobacco21.

Texas 21 Organization Media Contacts:

Adrienne Lynch, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, 512-919-1822,
Whitney Presley, American Heart Association, 512-338-2435,
Heather Mangan, American Lung Association in Texas, 312-801-7631,
John Schachter, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 202-271-8698,
Jessica Putallaz, March of Dimes, 713-964-5436,
Brent Annear, Texas Medical Association, 512-370-1381,
Clayton Boldt, MD Anderson, 713-792-9518,