SAN ANTONIO — The days of buying cigarettes as a teenager may be numbered in Texas.
State lawmakers will consider a bill to change the age requirement for buying tobacco from 18 to 21, legislation filed on the heels of a recently-passed ordinance in San Antonio that does just that.
Nathan Pfaff, a shift lead at Hazel Sky Smoke Shop says the move from back in October left the owner of the business on edge. But they’re adjusting; signs adorn the walls making it clear customers have to be 21 or older to buy tobacco products.
If patrons miss the signage, they can count on employees to remind them.
"How's it going ya'll? I need IDs," Pfaff said Tuesday as more customers entered.
Last year, San Antonio increased the minimum age from 18 to 21 to buy cigarettes.
It's a big change now on the table for the entire state, and a potential move Pfaff said will even out the playing field for Hazels Sky Smoke Shop and other businesses.
The owner has at least two stores in San Antonio; one is located near Leon Valley, where employees are working hard to make up for lost business.
"It definitely did drop a lot there,” Pfaff said. “They had the biggest change in people."
Leon Valley City Manager Kelly Kuenstler says the community isn’t currently enforcing a 21-years-old age requirement for tobacco products. Pfaff says many people are upset when they visit the shop located on Wurzbach Road near Leon Valley because they have to turn them away.
"A lot of angry people, because we literally tell them, 'You can go right across the street to this gas station. That's Leon Valley and you can be 18; you just can't be in here,'" Pfaff said.
On Wednesday, the house Public Health Committee will hear House Bill 749, which proposes raising the state minimum age to 21 to purchase tobacco products and also e-cigarettes. It’s an issue also being tackled by the Senate with Senate Bill 21.
Pfaff says he’s been smoking since he was 16 years old and admits kicking the habit has proven to be a struggle. He hopes the bill gets approved throughout Texas to help future generations.
"It would have helped me not smoke," he said. "I've smoked for five years, but if it had been 21 I wouldn't have."