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Advocate highlight: Allie O’Loughlin - Senior at Eastlake High School

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to take a trip to The Washington State Capitol in Olympia, Washington. I went with my Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics class to serve as a youth advocate for the American Heart Association. 

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Personally, I am very passionate about raising the smoking age to 21 because my dad has been smoking since he was 16 years old so I have been a witness to early age exposure to tobacco my whole life. He has explained to us that he had very easy access to buying cigarettes and didn’t know any better at that age. I know the times are different now, but I do believe that part of the issue of nicotine addiction stems from cigarettes being so accessible to teens.

I think that if we were to raise the smoking age to 21 it would have the ability to eliminate the access to cigarettes for teens.  I don't know of many high-school kids who are friends with the 21-year-olds. I think that raising the smoking age would be really effective in all areas of Washington.

I strongly agree with the slogan ‘Tobacco Kills.’ I know that there are a lot of people that have watched their family members and friends suffer from this addiction that began before the age of 18.  It needs to stop. There are proven facts to show that if someone does not smoke before they're 21, they are highly unlikely to start.  Most people start at a young age like in high school because it is the “cool” thing to do. I think that e-cigarettes and “vaping” is more prevalent in my own community and age group than cigarettes, but with regulations moving the purchase age to 21 the numbers would decrease.

I truly believe that raising smoking age to 21 will positively impact my community and other communities in Washington and push the movement for other states to raise the age as well. It appears it could be the most effective way to decrease those that start to smoke and it needs to be implemented.

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