A local teen is joining a group of students from across the state who will meet with Texas lawmakers next week to discuss tobacco prevention.

Shoemaker High School senior Dominique Jefferson will travel to Austin along with 26 other Texas Teens as part of the Texas School Safety Center’s Texas Youth Summit.

“The reason I decided to apply for this opportunity is because I’ve always wanted to make a difference in my community, and I believe that this is a great way to start,” Jefferson said.

The summit will last from Sunday to Wednesday. There, Jefferson and her fellow delegates will learn about the state’s legislative process, and will be tasked with researching and developing strategies to help prevent tobacco use among teens. They’ll also address issues such as clean indoor air laws, current taxation levels of tobacco products and the importance of funding tobacco prevention programs.

“They’ll be spending that time hearing from experts, then use what they learn to develop those prevention strategies,” said Ruby Moore, a spokeswoman for the center.

Some of the suggestions from the previous summit included introducing a tax break for smoke-free businesses and including secondhand smoke danger in health inspection regulations.

The teens will then meet with state legislators to present their findings and prevention strategies. Jefferson said she was excited to get to work with lawmakers and get an up-close look at how the state government operates.

“I like that we will get to be able to talk with them about an important issue,” she said. “I think it is important to tell our representatives about what is happening in our community and get feedback from them.”

Jefferson, who will attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., after graduation, said this will be her first year participating in the summit.

Contact Chris McGuinness at chrism@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.

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