Tobacco 21: Taking a Major Step in Protecting SA’s Young Citizens

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Supporters of Tobacco 21 hold signs at a media briefing in City Hall.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Supporters of the Tobacco 21 ordinance hold up signs at a media briefing in City Hall last December.

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I’m a senior in high school here in San Antonio and a strong supporter of raising the tobacco age from 18 to 21. I spoke on behalf of the Tobacco 21 to members of the San Antonio City Council on Dec. 6, urging them to support this important ordinance.

I am almost 18 years old, so I’m still really young. Most 18-year-olds like myself are in high school. If they’re able to legally purchase tobacco products, what do you think they will do next? I can tell you that they’ll probably either sell or share them with the other kids at school – who are 15, 16, and 17 years old. Consider that a 21-year-old likely will not hang out with younger high school kids, which would reduce the access that 15-, 16-, 17-, and even 18-year-olds have to tobacco products.

Advertising in movies, magazines, and social media encourages kids to think that smoking is cool. What those kids don’t realize is that when you smoke, you’re slowly killing yourself and possibly those around you with secondhand smoke. There are so many different kinds of cancers and diseases that can be prevented – COPD, lung cancer, throat cancer, stomach cancer, heart disease, and stroke – to name a few, have all been directly linked to using tobacco products.

More than 5.6 million children are expected to die prematurely due to smoking-related diseases. Do you think 18-year-olds make decisions based on how those choices will affect them decades down the road and for rest of their life? I turn 18 in four months; I don’t have the desire to try smoking, but not all kids my age are like me.

Raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products would ultimately save lives and cut medical costs. Currently, five states and more than 280 localities have adopted policies to raise the age from 18 to 21. More than 25 percent of Americans already live in a state or community where the minimum legal sale age for tobacco products is 21. When I spoke to City Council, I urged our leaders to make San Antonio the first city in Texas to do the same and take a major step in protecting its young citizens.

Join me in support of Tobacco 21 by writing to your City Council representative and urging them to vote yes on Jan. 11. You can find out who your City Council representative is here.

You can also rally with us when City Council votes on Tobacco 21 on Jan. 11 at 9 a.m. in the City Council Chambers on the first floor of the Municipal Plaza Building.

4 thoughts on “Tobacco 21: Taking a Major Step in Protecting SA’s Young Citizens

  1. Help protect our youth from accessing tobacco products at such a young age…think about the enormous number of people you can affect with this decision. Please vote to support Tobacco21!

    Way to speak up Kayleigh….

  2. My concern is that an 18 year is legally an adult. They can fight and die for our country in the military, they can be prosecuted and executed for criminal crimes, they can start a business or a family, and can do anything an adult is legally entitled to do. While I appreciate the motivation behind this campaign, it ultimately strives to deprive an adult of a decision, however wrongheaded, they should legally be entitled to make.

    I’m a progressive guy, but the libertarian side of me is very weary of intrusive laws and regulations that deprive adults of the ability to make good and bad decisions for themselves. The rationale of “it saves lives and furthers good health” could be used to limit just about any human behavior that people take joy in.

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