Indiana Chamber will push to raise smoking age to 21 statewide

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Indiana Chamber will push lawmakers to increase the state’s smoking age from 18 to 21 during the next legislative session, officials announced Monday during its annual luncheon.

“It’s a huge cost burden for employers,” said Caryl Auslander, the chamber’s vice president for education, workforce development and federal affairs. “So it’s really important that businesses and employers speak up.”

The proposal is part of a larger platform to reduce health care costs, alongside eliminating any special privileges Indiana smokers receive while at work.

“It will be interesting to watch as it proceeds,” House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) said. “I have a bit of difficulty telling somebody they can go to Iraq and fight for freedom but they can’t buy a pack of cigarettes. I get that we do something different for alcohol in that regard. We’ll see.”

The chamber is also calling on lawmakers to eventually require computer science classes for primary and secondary students at schools statewide and potentially add the provision as a requirement for graduation to address the state’s workforce needs.

Click here to read the full list of priorities.

In a recent policy paper, the chamber also said it backs the legalization of Sunday alcohol sales and the expansion of cold beer sales and grocery and convenience stores.

The event came one day ahead of Organization Day at the Statehouse and on the heels of House Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) announcing he’ll resign his leadership role Tuesday.

Pelath also won’t seek re-election in 2018 but said he will serve out the remainder of his term.

“I will not saddle my caucus with a lame duck leader,” he said Monday. “It’s an extraordinary important election cycle, and I know unambiguously that was the right thing to do.”