April 20, 2007
Senate says "No smoking till 19"

Thus says the Senate: Don't smoke 'em if you're under 19.

You're old enough to vote and serve your country at 18, but you'd have to wait a year to buy cigarettes under a bill approved Thursday by the Texas Senate.

"The further you can put this (legal age) off, there's a much better chance that people will not start to smoke," said Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio.

His Senate Bill 448, approved 26-4, moves to an uncertain future in the House, where it doesn't yet have a sponsor. Rep. Garnet Coleman, a Houston Democrat on the House Public Health Committee, said he doesn't have a position on the bill but would like to see it aired.

"I'm in favor of restricting who can buy cigarettes," Coleman said, "but I think there are a lot of people who are going to say, 'Enough is enough. You've taxed me to death, now you're saying that someone (age 18) can't buy cigarettes.' "

Coleman was referring to last year's special session, when lawmakers more than tripled the cigarette tax to help pay for local school property tax reform.

Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Green-ville, was among the "no" votes in the Senate, although he's a physician.

"I hate cigarettes," Deuell said. "I just think (if) you're 18, you're an adult, you can serve in the military, and I think that you're out of high school by then. I don't see any convincing evidence that that's the age when people start smoking."

Put me down as being with Sen. Deuell on this one. I hate smoking as much as the next person, but to my mind, either you're a minor or you're an adult. I do not believe there should be a limbo period where you're part adult - someone who can join the military, sign binding contracts, work as a stripper, or adopt a child - and part not adult. And yes, I feel the same way about the drinking age, too.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 20, 2007 to That's our Lege

I assume enforcement of the law is better now than when I was 15, but there has never been a time in my life when I've known a 15-year-old who wanted to smoke, but didn't - and that includes the two 15-year-old smokers I know right now.

Posted by: Chris Koeberle on April 20, 2007 5:58 PM