Hundreds of kids were at the State Capitol today, urging lawmakers to raise the legal age to buy tobacco products in Pennsylvania from 18 to 21.
At just 5-months-old, Matthew Kelly was diagnosed with cancer. Two years later, his right lung had to be removed. Kelly tells us it makes it “troublesome to breathe. It’s really hard, especially around people who smoke.”
And, despite still being in high school, running into people who smoke is a constant problem for the teenager.
“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.”
Which is why he was one of more than 600 students from across Pennsylvania gathered at the State Capitol on Tuesday urging lawmakers to raise the legal age to buy tobacco products.
“By getting it out of the school system, it can decrease the number of smokers and people who vape dramatically.”
Chief Mission Officer for the American Lung Association, Deborah Brown, says, “95% of adult smokers try their first cigarette before they turn 21. We can help prevent that.”
Members of ‘TRU,’ the Tobacco Resistance Unit, were both in and around the Capitol, pushing for the age to be raised from 18 to 21 for all tobacco products, including increasingly popular vaping products.
Senator Camera Bartolotta suggests tobacco companies “stop making cartoon characters on all your packaging. Stop with the fruity-fruity flavors. Stop enticing kids to do dangerous things.”
12 other states have increased the age to 21.