West Texas Group Working to Stop Teen Tobacco Use

by Diane Tuazon
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - Texas teens are picking up chewing tobacco at an alarming rate,  one west Texas group is working to stop it, after getting a $39,000 grant from the state. 

"Everybody talks about lung cancer and smoking cigarettes, but this is just as deadly," Vella Connley of the Permian Basin Regional Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, said.

The average Texas teenager who uses smokeless tobacco starts at 13.

"You can see what the final effect was from smokless tobacco. If we can make a difference in someone else's life that's really important," Connley said.

Now with a $39,000 grant, the Permian Basin Regional Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse is trying to spread the word to young teens. 

"I can tell you in Ector and Midland County, 20% of population does use tobacco," Connely said.

The program will focus on schools in the 26 rural counties surrounding Ector, Midland, and Howard. 

"We're going to try and cover as many young people as we can," Connely expressed.

With the new statewide program, they hope to make a difference, one school at a time.