The Bulldog Bulletin

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Students take stand against teen smoking

Jessilyn Dowell, Editor-in-Chief

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On Tuesday March 6, Baldwin High School freshman Teagan Troute, junior Kathryn McGinnis and I were able to be a lobbyist for the interest group Resist. This group is focused on reducing teen smoking and the deaths in teens that are tobacco-related. Resist teamed up with national KickButts day that is held on March 21 around the United States. We were able to talk to senators and representatives about putting a $1.50 tax on all tobacco products including vapes to give money back to the state. With this tax, our predictions is that teens will stop due to the price increase and they will be healthier therefore the state does not spend as much money treating people who get cancer, COPD, asthma due to smoking and put that money into education on teen smoking.

We started our day learning about the 600 ingredients in cigarettes and when burned create 7,000 chemical in which over 60 are cancer causing. We learned about how big tobacco companies targets the youth with different flavors of vapes and swishers so it tastes like candy and how they can get away with it. The tobacco companies manufacture the nicotine to be more addictive in which it’s easier for the youth to become lifelong smokers. The health risk of second hand smoking with babies and dogs but the real killer is third-hand smoking which is the toxic residue sticks on clothes, furniture and walls to which you are breathing it in all the time. Two ladies from the national cancer society came and gave a presentation on cancer and how to prevent getting cancer.

The first senator we met with was Tom Holland, he was on board with our idea. Teagan told him about the money that Kansas resist groups spend only get (eight hundred forty seven thousand dollars) to spend on not only advertisements but fund to host events like kick butts day while big tobacco companies spend eighty eight million on advertisements that are aimed towards the youth. I told him about the smoking that happens in BHS and how we are concerned about the health of the students. Kathryn told him that hopefully with putting this tax it will save the environment and help people to stop smoking at 7 in 10 people have said they wish they could stop. He asked what we thought about raising the age to 21 on tobacco in hopes kids will stop buying them because it would be less available. Senator Holland also asked us about gun control asking if we were okay with raising the age of buying an assault rifle to 21 while the average rifle is kept at 18. I said that I agree it would not hurt but we should put the same amount of money into our schools that we put into preventing fires to protecting students from mass shooting with door stops and security. He was responsive with my input and is on board with our idea of raising taxes on tobacco.

We then met with Senator Anthony Hensley who was not as willing to talk about taxes. He did respect our speech, but as he is a right-sided conservative he does not like the thought about taxes and raising them and I think he believes that he will either lose supporters or he does not want to target a specific group of people even though that is what the tobacco companies do.

We then had a break as the senators and representatives were on lunch break. There were almost 90 kids from around kansas that made the trip to Topeka to get the opportunity to talk to our senators and representatives about the tax as we all do not support smoking or tobacco in general. Teagan and I walked all the up to the top of the capital, which was windy we were scared that we were going to fly off but it was very interesting to learn about the history of the building.

Kathryn and I then met with Representative Eileen Horn. Before we even got our pitch on the table she simply said “you don’t even need to convince me because I already agree.” It was as easy as that. She has a 14 year old boy and a few younger kids but her oldest was trying to buy a vape and said that they did not have any tobacco in them when she knew that there was. She agrees that too many kids my age are smoking and getting addicted at a young age.

I loved my experience that I had with my legislation, they were really easy to talk to as they are just humans and people of the state. I think with the right people we could end teen smoking and the smoking of many adults.

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Students take stand against teen smoking