Metro Health Proposing Raising Age to Buy Tobacco

By Pilar Arias

New city health leadership could mean new tobacco policy.

San Antonio Metropolitan Health District Director Colleen Bridger has been on the job six months. She said in October the department will be recommending to city leaders raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.

“We know nationally 75 percent of folks agree that the legal age to purchase tobacco should be raised to 21,” Bridger said.

If the proposal were to pass, San Antonio would be the first Texas city to raise the age to buy cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vapes, hookahs and chewing tobacco. However, the city would join more than 250 cities and five states to do so, which are part of the Tobacco 21 initiative.

Metro Health put a survey on their website to get the public’s input on the proposal.

“We’re trying to get 5,000 responses to the survey to get a sense of what the community thinks about that idea,” Bridger said.

Nearly 13 percent of high school boys and 10 percent of girls smoke in Bexar County, according to Metro Health. In the past few years, the rate of tobacco use among high school students has increased, largely due to the abundant availability of nicotine-delivery products, including electronic cigarettes.

Bridger is hoping to have a decision about the proposal by the end of the year.

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