Youth rally for higher tobacco minimum age

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Hundreds of kids from across Pennsylvania rallied at the state Capitol on Tuesday, urging lawmakers to raise the legal age to buy tobacco products in Pennsylvania from 18 to 21.

More than 600 members of the Tobacco Resistance Unit spoke directly to lawmakers before the rally. They want legislation to raise the legal age to purchase all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.

They also want increased annual funding in the state budget for tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

“You see it every day. There’s not a day that goes by that you don’t see it. Whether it’s people doing it in the classroom or doing it in the bathroom, it’s a big epidemic,” said Matthew Kelly, a high school student and member of TRU. “By getting it out of the school system, it can decrease the number of smokers and people who vape dramatically.”

Twelve other states have already increased the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21.

Senate Bill 473 would raise the legal age to 21 in Pennsylvania. It is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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