San Antonio City Council Votes to Raise City's Tobacco Buying Age to 21

Convenience stores had protested the proposed ordinance.
January 12, 2018

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 yesterday.

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.

Convenience store 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.”

Paul Hardin, 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.”