Newton high school students push for city to raise legal tobacco age to 21

NEWTON, Kan. A group of high school students in Newton are leading an effort for their town to raise the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 years old.

The teens worked with several agencies to put their proposal together. They say their peers don't understand the risks associated with tobacco use, especially with an increase in vaping and e-cigarette use.

The group calls itself "STAND" as its members work together to lead their age group into what they believe is a better direction. The teens hope that by raising the age of buying and using tobacco in their city, it will lead to less tobacco use for the student body at Newton High School.

"I believe that a lot of people don't think it's going to affect them as heavily. They don't really realize, they don't understand that maybe, 'this isn't good for my lungs,'" Newton High School student Savannah Hunsucker says. "They don't realize the effect that it has in their brains and how they don't develop until their mid 20s, early 20s."

The City of Newton is in the process of putting together an ordinance that will be presented to the city commission. City leaders in Topeka passed a similar law, boosting the legal tobacco-use age to 21, earlier this year.