TMA Hotline Feb. 14: Push To Raise Tobacco Sales Age to Get Senate Boost
By Jennifer Perkins


Medicine received good news Wednesday that Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) will refile a bill that would raise the tobacco sale age to 21. Refiling might not sound like much, but this is a very good indication of the bill’s likelihood of success in the Senate.

The measure already had been filed this session as Senate Bill 338, but Senator Huffman will refile it as SB 21, indicating that Senate leadership supports the measure. (Lower bill numbers are reserved for higher-priority issues.) Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Richmond) filed a companion bill in the House of Representatives.

SB 21 would include vaping, which the surgeon general has declared an epidemic among American youth.

During the 2017 session, Representative Zerwas filed a similar “Tobacco 21” bill that made it out of the House Committee on Public Health but never advanced to a floor vote.

San Antonio last year became the first city in Texas to prohibit the sale of tobacco products within the city limits to anyone younger than 21, instead of age 18.

Otherwise, activity in the Capitol was mostly light today, with the House and Senate both adjourned until next Tuesday.

More than one month into session — and three weeks before the filing deadline — more than 2,700 bills have been filed. TMA is monitoring almost 600 of them — in keeping with previous sessions’ rates of more than 20 percent of all bills filed.


This list will change frequently during the session, but here are some bills the Texas Medical Association is watching now. Keep an eye on your email inbox for Action Alerts as we work to pass or kill bills. 

  • House Bill 29 by Rep. Ina Minjarez (D-San Antonio) would grant direct access to physical therapists without a diagnosis by a physician. TMA opposes this bill. 
  • House Bill 460 by Rep. Matt Shaheen (R-Plano) would permit physician dispensing of medication. 
  • House Bill 1504 by Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Marshall) and Senate Bill 610 by Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) relate to the continuation of the Texas Medical Board (TMB). This is the TMB Sunset Bill. 
  • Senate Bill 268 by Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso) would grant prescriptive authority to psychologists. TMA opposes this bill. 


Healthy Vision 2025 – released late last month – is TMA’s all-inclusive, health care roadmap for legislators.

Want to help spread and promote TMA’s Healthy Vision for Texas? Become a TMA social media ambassador.


Nothing drives home the importance of an issue like a personal story. When calling or writing your legislators, tell them specifically how the issue affects you, your colleagues, and patients. (Students can offer credible anecdotes from their own medical school experiences.) This is the best way to persuade lawmakers that what may seem like an abstract or arcane point really affects their constituents deeply. Get more tips in our Grassroots Advocacy Guide.


If talk of bills and committees and backroom deals initiate tachycardia, you might want to join TMA Leading Advocates. It’s TMA’s exclusive Facebook group for legislative advocacy. Enjoy special features, news in advance, and a community of TMA members who are excited to talk about the Texas Legislature and medicine's advocacy priorities. This closed group is open only to TMA and TMA Alliance members, and TMA and county medical society staff. Join today.


TMA’s 2019 legislative agenda includes priorities to help advance patient care in Texas.

Top on the list are the state budget, insurance reform, scope of practice, maternal health, the Texas Medical Board and Medical Practice Act, and public health.

TMA member physicians and medical students, and TMA Alliance members play a significant role in advancing medicine’s priorities at the Capitol. Here are some ways you can help:

  • Register for First Tuesdays at the Capitol – there are three left;
  • Testify before a House or Senate committee;
  • Learn more about TEXPAC, TMA’s bipartisan political action committee;
  • When called to do so, respond to Grassroots Action Center alerts on specific bills via our new VoterVoice app; and/or
  • Make sure you receive TMA’s Legislative News Hotline each day, via Texas Medicine Today. Here’s how: Just log in to the Edit My Interests page on your TMA profile. Ensure you get all the legislative updates by selecting "Health care issues in the Texas Legislature" as one of your Grassroots and Advocacy interests. TMA’s updates on the latest bills affecting medicine will arrive in your inbox as part of Texas Medicine Today at 2 pm each day lawmakers convene at the Capitol throughout Texas’ 86th legislative session.


Physician of the Day is a service the Texas Academy of Family Physicians (TAFP) provides the Texas Legislature. Each day the legislators are in session, the group names a physician to serve in the Capitol. This tradition started in 1971 and has continued every legislative session since, including special sessions.

Today’s physician of the day is Dakeya Jordan, DO, of Benbrook. Dr. Jordan graduated from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and is a member of the Tarrant County Medical Society.


Texans Who Get Surprise Medical Bills Are Often On Their Own. Groups Ask Lawmakers To Step In. – KUT

Emergency mental health bill advances in Texas Senate – Austin American-Statesman

Depression During and After Pregnancy Can Be Prevented, National Panel Says. Here’s How. – The New York Times

Younger U.S. consumers more dissatisfied with traditional healthcare – Modern Healthcare

Advocacy group calls for tougher state laws requiring vaccines – KTRK-TV

How Much Money Are North Texas Health Plans Making? – D CEO Healthcare

Health plans don’t want patients on opioids. So what are they doing for pain? – Politico

Last Updated On

February 14, 2019

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Texas legislation | Tobacco

Jennifer Perkins

Advocacy Communication Manager

(512) 370-1469
Jennifer Perkins

Jennifer Perkins, a native Texan and University of Texas Longhorn, has worked in politics, public affairs, and advocacy for more than two decades, covering a litany of subject areas and a number of states, using a marketing-oriented communications style as informed by her MBA. Jennifer has two dogs, is a college football fanatic, loves to entertain, and prefers to be outdoors..

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