SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- State Sen. Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio) says more than 503,000 kids under the age of 18 will die prematurely from tobacco.
That's why Uresti has authored a bill aimed at changing the legal smoking age to 21.
Senate Bill 313 has sparked outrage among smokers.
"There's a hundred things that could kill me today," said Eric Macias. "Why worry about something that's going to kill me 20 years from now?"
Macias is 20 years old and has been smoking since he was a teen
Uresti argues that Senate Bill 313 may have been able to keep someone like Macias from ever lighting up in the first place.
“If this bill passes, 33 percent of our 18, 19 and 20-year-olds will never start to smoke. That’s significant,” Uresti said.
But what about the money the state budget would sacrifice from fewer cigarette sales? In two years, that adds up to $42 million.
“I think it’s a shame that we are relying on these young adults to smoke to balance our budget,” Uresti said.