UT students and faculty hold Tobacco21 summit for local policy makers

UT students and faculty hold Tobacco21 summit for local policy makers

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - University of Toledo students and faculty lobbied local policy makers and health care advocates Friday about the importance of passing legislation to raise the age of purchasing tobacco to 21.

"If 51 percent of people want it, that's who you go with," said Larry Sykes, Toledo City Council. "Especially if it's the right thing to do."

Supporters say it is the right thing to do to stop people from starting the habit in their teens.

City Councilman Kurt Young says he kicked his smoking habit just in time.

"I am an ex-smoker myself," said Kurt Young, Toledo City Council. "I wouldn't be here today if I hadn't quite but I started when I was a kid. So, I like a lot of what they're saying. I want to make sure if we do this we do it properly. We do it right and we have the full support of the community but again I like the concept of looking at this."

The student leading Tobacco 21 is hoping to make a grassroots campaign.

"We're going to go to different block watches, different community organizations, church groups to try to gain their support, then move forward within Toledo City Council," said Mallory Rinckey, PH.D Health Education student at UT.

Faculty at UT say the student driven effort is not just a teaching tool, but a way to better the health of Toledo.

"The fact that policy makers and people throughout the city are in support of this is not surprising because there's been polls that show three-fourths of people support ordinances like this," said Dr. Amy Thompson, professor of Public Health at UT.

The next steps for the Tobacco 21 legislation is to continue educating the community about its importance and to get a member of city council to sponsor this legislation before the rest of council.

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