The Texas Tobacco 21 Law
Many Texans are unaware that you must be 21 – and not 18 – to purchase tobacco in any form in the State of Texas. Without much controversy, the state passed its Tobacco 21 Law back in 2019, and it has remained a bit below the radar. The important point to understand is that anyone who is under the age of 21 and is caught in possession of or attempting to purchase tobacco products (including e-cigarettes) by misrepresenting his or her age can face serious criminal consequences.
Texas Tobacco 21
Texas is not alone in its efforts to curb tobacco usage. In fact, all 50 states are on board, and they’ve all raised the legal age to purchase or possess tobacco to 21 (from 18). The Texas Tobacco 21 law went into effect in September 2019 and was followed by a federal mandate several months later. Statistically, most regular smokers had their first cigarette before turning 21. Further, those who take up the habit in their high school years often obtain their tobacco products from their slightly older peers. The Tobacco 21 law helps to put the kibosh on this facilitation. Ultimately, the motivation behind the law is to help decrease smoking rates in young adults, which should help decrease future health problems and premature deaths predicated on smoking.
The Charge of Minor in Possession
Anyone under the age of 21 who is discovered in possession of tobacco can face a charge of minor in possession, which is similar to the charge of alcohol possession. If charged with possession of tobacco, minors face fines of up to $100 and can be required to attend a program geared toward tobacco awareness and/or to perform community service. This is a criminal charge, which means a conviction will linger on the accused’s record (unless expunged – an often-laborious process).
Misrepresentation of One’s Age
This change in the law could prompt some underage tobacco users (especially those who’ve already taken up the habit) to attempt to continue purchasing cigarettes or e-cigarettes by misrepresenting their age, which is a more serious charge. Any form of misrepresenting one’s age with the intention of passing for 21 (including via a fake ID) in order to purchase tobacco is a criminal offense, and all of the following apply:
It is a Class C misdemeanor.
It is punishable by up to $500 in fines.
It leaves the minor with a criminal record.
It is important to note that, even if the minor doesn’t use his or her fake ID to attempt to make a tobacco purchase, simply possessing a false form of ID that is deceptively similar to a state-issued ID (or to any kind of official ID) is a Class C misdemeanor.
It Is Time to Consult with an Experienced Killeen Criminal Defense Lawyer
If your child is facing a charge related to the Tobacco 21 law, attorney Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is on your side and is committed to aggressively advocating for your child’s most favorable case resolution. To learn more, please do not hesitate to contact us online or call us at 254-501-4040 today.