SAN ANTONIO - San Antonio could become the first city in Texas to raise the legal age to purchase and consume tobacco from 18 to 21.
The change could happen as soon as the end of this year. Metro Health plans to recommend to city council to raise the legal age in October.
"It protects kids, the vast majority of kids who are under 18 currently get their tobacco products from kids who are 18 to 20 so if we raise the age to 21 then we cut off a source of smoking for kids even younger than 18," Colleen Bridger, director of Metropolitan Health District said.
According to CityHealth, 13 of the 40 biggest cities in the United States have already done it. Studies show most lifelong smokers start before they turn 21.
A Robert Johnson Foundation study shows 13 percent of adults in Bexar County are smokers, slightly below the Texas average of 15 percent. Reaction in San Antonio to the proposal is mixed.
"I think it would be a very good idea to change the age. I mean to ban them would be even better," one woman said.
"There are so many of our military men who are fighting for our country and if they can be there to go to war at a certain age less than 21 I think they have every right to be able to smoke," another woman said.
Metro Health plans to survey the community to see how supportive people are of the recommendation. Bridger says 12.6 percent of Bexar County high school males are smokers and 10 percent of high school females.
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