Ind. House Committee votes to raise smoking age to 21

UPDATE: No change to who can buy cigarettes and e-cigarettes in Indiana. The bill that would have raised the smoking age from 18 to 21 was referred to the House Ways & Means Committee, effectively killing the bill for this session

 

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana took the first step toward raising the smoking age Monday morning. 

The Indiana House Public Health Committee passed House Bill 1380, which would raise the age of being able to smoke from 18 to 21. 

The bill, authored by Rep. Charlie Brown (D-Gary), will move to the full House for consideration. A second part of the bill, which would've increased the tax on cigarettes by $2 per pack, was removed.

"You cannot put a value on one life. That's what should be uppermost in our minds," said Brown.

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The Indiana Chamber says smoking is bad for business and costs employers more by way of lost productivity, the time taken for smoke breaks, and higher health insurance costs.

Opponents of raising the smoking age argue it will hurt local businesses.

A representative for the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association testified Monday that teens will go elsewhere to buy cigarettes, including neighboring states and the black market.

"18 year olds are adults in Indiana. They can enter into contracts, get married, sue someone, be sued, get divorced, buy a home, rent an apartment, adopt a child, serve on a jury," said Brad Baughn, Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association.

Five other states have raised their smoking age to 21 -- Oregon, Hawaii, California, New Jersey and Maine. 

A 2015 study showed that raising the smoking age to 21 would result in a 12 percent decrease in tobacco use among adults. 

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