Leading lawmakers leery of boosting Indiana smoking age

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Legislative leaders are leery of a proposal being backed by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce to raise the state's legal age for buying cigarettes from 18 to 21.

The statewide business group announced a lobbying agenda Monday for the legislative session that starts in early January. The group says Indiana needs to reduce its smoking rate that causes $3 billion in annual heath care costs in the state.

An Institute of Medicine report from 2015 found that increasing the minimum legal age for smoking could help stop younger teens from starting and could lead to a 12 percent decrease in adult smoking by the time today’s teens grow up.

Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma says he has trouble telling military members they can be sent to Iraq but that they can't buy cigarettes.

Proposals for a $1 per-pack hike in Indiana's cigarette tax appears have failed the last two years in the Legislature. Such a tax increase is unlikely next year as lawmakers aren't expected to consider major budget issues.

There are currently five states and over 270 cities in the United States where you must be 21 years old to buy tobacco products.

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