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Image of Nathan Hendra with Minor Possessing Tobacco

Minor in Possession of Tobacco and E-Cigarettes

Minors, including anyone under the age of 18 years old, are prohibited from possessing tobacco products in Texas. The official name for this law is Possession, Purchase, Consumption, or Receipt of Cigarettes, E-cigarettes, or Tobacco Products by Minors Prohibited.

As you can tell from the name of the statute, the law extends beyond simply possession of tobacco. This law has been extended to also prohibit minors from purchasing, consuming, or accepting tobacco products or e-cigarettes. Additionally, the statute prohibits a minor from using false or fraudulent means to misrepresent their age in order to obtain tobacco or an e-cigarette.

Have you been charged with Possession of Tobacco Products? Call criminal lawyer Paul Saputo at (888) 239-9305.

What is the law in Texas about Possession of Cigarettes, E-Cigarettes, or Tobacco Products by a Minor?

The offense is described in Section 161.252 of the Texas Health and Safety Code.

(a) An individual who is younger than 18 years of age commits an offense if the individual:

(1) possesses, purchases, consumes, or accepts a cigarette, e-cigarette, or tobacco product;  or

(2) falsely represents himself or herself to be 18 years of age or older by displaying proof of age that is false, fraudulent, or not actually proof of the individual’s own age in order to obtain possession of, purchase, or receive a cigarette, e-cigarette, or tobacco product.

What actions involving tobacco products are prohibited?

A minor cannot possess, purchase, consume or accept an e-cigarette or tobacco products. This means that a minor cannot even accept a single cigarette from a person legally allowed to have them. Possession also does not have to be actual possession, the prosecutors can attempt to prove their case by constructive possession. That is, even if the tobacco or e-cigarette is not in the minor’s actual hands or pockets, the state may argue that they still had possession by other means.

What is the punishment for Possession of Tobacco Products by a Minor?

A minor charged for possession, purchase, consumption, or receipt of tobacco products can be punished with a fine up to $250. In addition to the fine, the court will order the minor to attend an e-cigarette and tobacco awareness program. Failure to complete this program will result in the Department of Public Safety suspending or denying a driver’s license or permit of the minor for up to 180 days.1

Are there any defenses to this charge?

It is an exception to prosecution if the minor can show they possessed the cigarette, e-cigarette, or tobacco product:2

  • In the presence of an adult parent, spouse, or guardian of the minor
  • In the presence of an employer, if the possession or receipt is part of their duties as an employee
  • In the participation of an inspection or test for seller compliance (a sting operation)

Legal References:

1 Texas Health and Safety Code Section 161.253(a)

2 Texas Health and Safety Code Section 161.252(b)&(c)

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