Bill and Title: HB 1380 – Tobacco Products Purchasing Age
Author: Rep. Charlie Brown (D-Gary)
Summary: Raises the age from 18 years to 21 for prohibitions and crimes concerning the sale, purchase and possession of cigarettes and other tobacco products. Makes a corresponding change to the laws concerning e-cigarettes, tobacco retailer permits and admission to establishments where smoking is permitted.
Chamber Position: Support
Status: On Tuesday, it passed the House Public Health Committee by a vote of 9-0, but was killed on Wednesday when House Republican leadership recommitted the bill to the Ways and Means Committee with no time left before the deadline for action by that committee.

Update/Chamber Action: A parade of individuals and organizations, led by Chamber President Kevin Brinegar, testified in favor of the bill. Of note was the military testimony and the impact smoking has on the armed services. But all that was for naught thanks to the unexpected House Republican maneuver that followed.

There is no valid reason why House Bill 1380 wasn’t allowed to make it to the House floor for a vote, which we believe would have been a favorable one. The House Republicans justified their decision by stating that their own calculations indicate it would cost the state $14 million a year in lost cigarette tax revenue. In reality, all the revenue taken in from the cigarette tax makes up less than 3% of the state’s funds, and the state would save considerably more than the $14 million due to reduced Medicaid costs for smokers Not to mention last session, an increase in the cigarette tax was defeated and in committee this year, House Republicans removed the proposed tax increase. The Legislature isn’t being consistent about when cigarette tax revenue is important.

The Indiana Chamber is extremely disappointed in the decision by the House Republican caucus to kill legislation aimed at reducing the state’s high smoking rate and the costs associated with that. The true victims, of course, are the individuals who suffer the health consequences due to their smoking addiction.

House Bill 1380 was a priority for the Indiana Chamber because smokers cost Hoosier employers over $6 billion per year in additional health care costs, absenteeism and lost productivity.

We thank Rep. Brown for his leadership on this issue. Of very small consolation, the House Speaker has pledged to send this issue to a summer study committee; hopefully, any “concerns” over the fiscal impact of this policy will be taken care of during that time and 2019 will finally be the year for the state to pass legislation to help improve the state’s high smoking rate.

Resource: Mike Ripley at (317) 264-6883 or e-mail: [email protected]