BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) –– Springfield Central High School students told 22News that tobacco products are cheap and easy to get. Flavored tobacco, they say, are less expensive than a bag of chips.
You have to be at least 18 years old to buy tobacco products in most towns, but that doesn’t stop many younger teens from smoking cigarettes. Just take it from 16-year old Giuseppe Santaniello, a sophomore at Springfield Central High School.
He said, “My friends, they’re always posting videos smoking, vaping or doing whatever and I just think it’s kind of ridiculous.”
More than 200 high school students rallied at the State House for “Kick Butts Day.” The annual event highlights young people who are fighting against tobacco industry tactics. Several high school students told 22News that tobacco products are too cheap, too sweet and too easy to get. They want to ban the sale of flavored tobacco in convenience stores and gas stations statewide.
“Bubblegum, there’s like Pina Colada. There’s just random flavors that attract youth because people see it and they’re like, wow it’s like the candy flavor that I love,” said Springfield Central High School senior Gianghi Lenguyen.
Each day, nearly 4,000 teenagers will try their first cigarette in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That’s why the Massachusetts Senate is considering a bill to raise the statewide smoking age from 18 to 21.
“I think it’s a good idea. I think it’s something that we’re going to have to debate. There are certain issues that come up and arguments that come up. (Do you support it?) At this point, I think I’m pretty close to being in support of it,” said state Senator James Welch (D-West Springfield).
More than eighty Massachusetts towns have raised the minimum legal age to buy tobacco to 21, including Amherst and South Hadley.
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