Branson High School Students Push to Raise Age for Tobacco Purchases

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BRANSON, Mo. — A group of local High School students are pushing to raise the legal age for purchasing tobacco products in their community.

These students from Branson High School are part of the Taney County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention team — also called ADAPT. 

There aim is to raise the minimum age from 18 to 21, in Branson. 

“At the beginning of the year they said, we want to pass tobacco 21 in Branson– and I said , okay,” said Alaina Williams, ADAPT Program Director for Branson Schools.

The students, who are members of ADAPT, presented their case at the Branson Board of Alderman’s study session last week. 

“They did a wonderful job, Williams said, “They shared some personal stories which was I think was very impactful. Plus they shared all of the information. Not only was it professional, but it was meaningful.”

So, why are these teens pushing to get the legal age for tobacco purchases raised from 18 to 21? 

“I really want to help them because at such a young age they’re already putting products they’re not supposed to put in their body,” said Laura Badajoz, a senior at Branson High School.

Senior, Reagan Magdaz agrees, “Seeing the affects of alcohol and drugs in our school and wanting to change that.”

“People are like really affected in their home life by tobacco and drugs and alcohol — and it’s good to inform them that it’s not okay and it’s not healthy,” said Jennifer Onoh, also a senior.

“I’ve always felt that the world would be a much better place..without..with cleaner air,” Paige McCarty, a freshman said.

“We all have our own stories,” said senior Bailey Lee, “But some of us have personal stories of who we’ve seen be affected.”

Williams says under the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the current rules can be changed.

“The Federal Government passed this ACT that establishes the 18-year old purchasing law, federally. But it also gives states and local communities the power to set their own age limits and restrictions,” Williams said.   

Arkansas legislators are considering raising the tobacco age, after a group of High School students in Harrison spearheaded the Tobacco 21 ordinance in their city.   

If it’s passed in Branson, the city will be the first in Southwest Missouri to adopt the ordinance. 

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