Taking a Stand in Texas

Posted by Kellen Kruk on 05 April 2019

In Texas, the toll of tobacco is a steep and deadly price. 7.4 percent of high school students smoke and 65,000 kids try smoking for the first time each year. Tobacco costs the state $8.8 billion in health care bills and 498,000 Texas kids alive today will ultimately die prematurely from smoking if smoking rates prevail.

Texas 21 Youth Ambassadors are taking a stand to put an end to that toll in Texas by advocating for the tobacco age to be raised to 21.

Tobacco companies target adolescents and young adults because they know that’s when most users become addicted to tobacco. About 95 percent of current adult smokers began smoking before they turned 21, so raising the age will decrease the likelihood that youth will start smoking in the first place and ultimately reduce the toll of tobacco.

This legislation is also important because it would effectively take tobacco products out of the hands of high schoolers. Many high school seniors, including myself, are 18 years old and legally allowed to buy tobacco products. This creates a re-sell market where seniors can make a profit by selling legally purchased tobacco products to underage underclassmen, and it’s become an epidemic especially with Juul and e-cigarettes.

The Texas 21 Youth Ambassadors coalition consists of youth from across the state that are advocating for a Tobacco 21 law in Texas. We use our advocacy skills gained from TakingDownTobacco.org to use our voices to go speak up and speak out about an issue that will have a dramatic impact on the health of our generation. We host events in our communities to raise awareness, gather signatures to show support and spread the message to peers and leaders alike that Tobacco 21 is right for Texas.

As a leader of the Texas 21 Youth Ambassadors Coalition, I highly encourage you to go out and make a change. Take the Informing Decision Makers course from TakingDownTobacco.org to gain the skills you need to talk to your state representative to see where they stand on tobacco policies. There are several courses that can give you tips and tricks to start a club in your school that focuses on tobacco prevention in your school or community. Any time you write a media advocacy piece or meet with an elected official, you can log them into Taking Down Tobacco and join your fellow youth advocates in Texas. 

Go out there and join us in taking a stand against Big Tobacco!