Amarillo Independent School District is trying help kids stay away from tobacco with Texas state grant money. For 2007 Amarillo ISD receives more than 10-thousand dollars yearly to stop teen tobacco use.
School officials say the money is helping, while some students disagree. Sophmore Jesus Mendoza says, "I think using all that money is a waste because I'm not going to smoke, but some kids you just can't get to them that way. They'll just ignore it.
The money goes to patrols, sting operations and tobacco awareness. Grant director Melynn Huntley says they've seen the impact the funding has made. "The way it helps, kids don't want a citation... Have to pay fines. They don't want to go to classes. We need kids to know there is a chance they'll get caught, Huntley said.
Corporal Jason Riddlespurger says students can't ignore the consequences."What we do is write them a ticket. It sounds bad for the first offense to put them in tobacco awareness classes," Riddlespurger said.
Even though the state is funding programs to deter teen tobacco use, state law is adding to the problem. According to AISD officials, state law allows teens to lawfully smoke around their parent. They say the state law causes confusion. Huntle says, "It's an odd thing about Texas. Technically, it's legal for a parent to smoke with their child. That sends a mixed message".