Seeking to Raise Legal Age of Tobacco Use

LEWISBURG, Pa. -- One lawmaker in Pennsylvania is trying to make the state tobacco-free, at least among young people.

State Senator Mario Scavello, a Republican, plans to introduce a law that would make it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to buy tobacco.

If passed, the law would raise the legal age to buy tobacco products in Pennsylvania from 18 to 21.

Sen. Scavello says an increased number of teenagers are getting tobacco from 18 year olds and raising the age could stop that.

Signs inside Puff Express in Lewisburg are similar to ones in tobacco shops all over Pennsylvania. You must be 18 years old to buy tobacco products.

According to Sen. Scavello, 13 percent of high school students are smokers and 81 percent of adult smokers started before they turned 21.

"I don't really agree with it because I feel like once you're 18 you're already an adult and you can make that decision on your own," Tanda Landy said.

Tanda Landy and Isabella Ely are both 15 years old. they say if you are old enough to serve in the military, you should be old enough to smoke.

"I feel like people are looking forward to smoking when they turn 18 because that's when you become an adult," Ely said.

Not everyone is against a law like that. Some people tell Newswatch 16 they're in favor of the senator's proposal.

"There are kids who make the decision when they're really young and then it's hard to get out of because tobacco is really addictive," said Megan Becker.

Becker is 20 years old and believes the proposal is a good idea.

"Walking around campus, if someone is smoking that does bother me. I have asthma. Sometimes it really gets to me, I try to avoid them and walk the other way," Becker said.

"I know a lot of my friends get into smoking and things like that and it's a shame to see young people getting addicted to things like that," said Katie Kratzer.

Seven other states have already passed similar legislation.

The senator says he plans to introduce the legislation in the very near future.

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