LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) -Texas is one step closer to combating smoking for those under the age of 21.
On Tuesday, Senate Bill 21, filed by state Sen. Joan Huffman, was passed that would raise the purchasing age for all tobacco products, including cigarettes and e-cigarettes.
Kellen Kruk is a senior At Pineywoods Community Academy, and has made efforts to help raise awareness about tobacco usage.
“The efforts that I have made is in the community, one just raising awareness through prep rallies in different classroom settings and teaching about Tobacco 21, but also on the state level by going to the senate state affairs committee and actually testifying for Tobacco 21 when it was in committee,” said Kruk.
Kruk said raising the age limit to purchase tobacco 21 would effectively push all tobacco products out of high school. “Because I’m not hanging around any 21 year old, I mean I have concurrent classes with AC and usually when we go to college classes there’s 21-year-olds in there too, but the high schoolers don’t hang out with them. They avoid them because they don’t want anything to do with it,” said Kruk.
Kim Simmons, The Director Of Prevention of The Alcohol And Drug Abuse Council, said the Texas 21 Bill will have an impact on reaching the youth.
“Because so many of the youth that are 18 are still on the high school campus, so it would essentially remove some of the 18-year-olds who had access, too, even if they didn’t use the product. If they could buy for someone else it would remove it from the high school campus,” said Simmons.
“Well, I’ve seen just at Pineywoods just about 50% of my senior class start using these products, start sharing it on social media which influences my underclassmen the people that look up to us,” said Kruk.
Overall, Kruk said his goal is to get the whole state of Texas smoke free.
“It’s nothing that we can completely ban, but we know we can regulate it as much as we can and keep it out of people’s hands that can get addicted,” said Kruk.
It is not clear if or when the Texas house might vote on the matter.
For the bill to become law, the house would have to pass the exact version with no revisions, and it would need to be signed by Governor Greg Abbott.