By Michael Abeyta

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (CBS4) – Congress might take up an idea to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 years old. Sen. Majority leader Mitch McConnell said earlier this week he plans to introduce the legislation.

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One of the goals is to try and lower the number of teenagers who are vaping.

When Sophie Mickus started school at Highlands Ranch High School, she noticed many of her peers were vaping.

Sophie Mickus (credit: CBS)

“It was kind of everywhere. You’d go to the rec center in the locker rooms, or just in cars throughout my community,” she said. “I think kids see that as an outlet for a little bit of rebellion.”

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Even though it was a popular trend, she knows vaping is dangerous. Many of her friends who vaped wanted to quit or wished they had never started.

“Kids have definitely started to reconsider how they treat themselves and whether or not they vape” says Sophie.

She decided to do something about it. She developed an anti-vaping campaign at her school. She talked to her peers at assemblies about the dangers of vaping and provided them with resources to quit if they had already started, but she was not about to stop there. She testified at the Colorado State Capitol for House Bill 1033 in favor of raising the age limit for purchasing tobacco to 21 years old.

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“It was quite an incredible experience just being able to share my story with the adults that don’t necessarily know how big of an issue it is in the high schools,” she said.

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Now she is adapting her program for middle schools and other high schools so she can help her friends and peers from other schools. She says she hopes one day youth vaping is a thing of the past.

“It’s okay to say no and be your individual self and make your own decisions.”

Michael Abeyta


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