SAN ANTONIO – San
Antonio’s city council voted to increase its minimum tobacco buying age from 18
to 21, and convenience store owners aren’t happy about it, KSAT-TV reports. On Wednesday, local
retailers staged a protest at city hall over the measure, which was passed
San Antonio is now
the first Texan city with an age 21 restriction on tobacco. The higher tobacco
buying age goes into effect on August 1.
Five states—California, Maine, Hawaii, New Jersey and Oregon—have 21 as the
minimum age for using and buying tobacco.
owner Anwar Tahir said the law will hurt small businesses like his that have
tobacco sales of 3 to 4% to customers between the ages of 18 and 21. “If I do a
million dollars in sales a year, … 4% means $40,000,” he told KSTX/Texas
Public Radio during the protest. “That means I’m unable to pay my mortgage;
I’m unable to my bills because my expenses are still there.”
president of the Texas Food and Fuel Organization, pointed out how the proposal
will impact the local economy. “We think it's unfair business practice to where
markets outside of the whatever respective territory. Whether that's county,
city or state boundaries, and move that business to other locations,” he said.
The ordinance only
affects stores within city limits. Tahir also told Texas Public Radio that the
proximity of other locationalities close by that would still sell to those
between the ages of 18 and 21 will likely siphon business from his store. “The
person is not just coming (here) to buy a soda,” he said. “… If he could buy a
cigar or cigarette across the street, of course he’s (going) to buy gas there.
… He’s not going to come to me.”