House proposal would boost Indiana cigarette tax by $1.50, increase smoking age to 21

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Hoosier lawmakers are considering a bill that would increase the state’s cigarette tax and raise the smoking age to 21.

The House Public Health Committee was scheduled to meet Wednesday afternoon to discuss House Bill 1578, which is authored by Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer (R-District 89) and co-authored by Rep. Cindy Ziemke (R-District 55) and Rep. Charlie Brown (D-District 3).

The measure would raise the cigarette tax by $1.50 to $2.495 per pack of regular size cigarettes with a corresponding increase for larger cigarettes. It would also increase the state’s smoking age from 18 to 21, meaning people would have to be 21 to buy cigarettes and other tobacco products or enter establishments where smoking is permitted.

The proposal would repeal employment protections for individuals who smoke or use other tobacco products.

In December, a coalition of business, healthcare, nonprofit and education leaders unveiled a push to raise the state’s cigarette tax. The group, which called its movement “Raise It for Health,” said research showed 69 percent of Hoosiers favored an increase in the cigarette tax.

The group argued that boosting the cigarette tax would increase state revenue and promote tobacco cessation efforts to improve the overall health of the state.

During the 2016 session, the Indiana House included a cigarette tax as part of its transportation plan. The measure passed in the House but failed in the Senate.