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Top Story: Smoking Age Increase Headed to House Floor; Military Exemption Slated for Removal

2019-02-08T11:22:35+00:00February 8th, 2019|

Senate Bill 425 – Minimum Age to Purchase Tobacco/E-Liquids
Authored by Sen. Randy Head (R-Logansport)

Raises from 18 to 21 years the age at which a person may: (1) sell or buy tobacco products or e-liquids and electronic cigarettes containing nicotine; and (2) enter designated smoking areas of a club or cigar specialty store. Allows someone who is 18 and serving in the military/reserves (or discharged) to purchase tobacco/e-liquids. Prohibits a person less than 18 years of age from purchasing e-liquids not containing nicotine.

Chamber Position: Support

The Latest: The bill passed the Senate Public Health Committee 8-2 on Wednesday. Prior to the vote, Sen. Head committed to removing the military exemption, which the Chamber and others requested, once the bill is up for a second reading on the House floor.

Chamber Action/Commentary: Chamber President Kevin Brinegar kicked off the public testimony for this bill, which is a priority of ours. Raising the legal age is such a critical step because the vast majority of lifelong smokers start in their teens; they become addicted and can’t quit. Our smoking rate is 50% higher than the U.S. average and getting worse. Indiana is now the 44th worst state for smoking, down from 39th. Other states are making progress, or at least not going backwards as Indiana is.

This has also become urgent due to teenage smoking and vaping; raising the legal age is the main thing that can be done to help that. School officials are urging action to address the growing vaping crisis. Our kids are getting hooked on nicotine and don’t even know it because vaping cartridges can contain far more nicotine than cigarettes.

Smoking also has a tremendous fiscal impact on businesses, to the tune of $6.2 billion a year. Smokers cost 40% more in health insurance coverage and are less productive, with smoke breaks amounting to an extra three weeks away from work.

Brinegar closed his testimony by saying to legislators, “You have the authority to raise the legal age for tobacco and nicotine products, and save thousands of young people from nicotine addiction.”

Overall, we sense there is now more support for passing this legislation in the wake of the impact vaping has had on teens. The Chamber will be pushing hard on this issue, along with the cigarette tax increase, all session.

Resource: Mike Ripley at (317) 264-6883 or email: mripley@indianachamber.com