INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — A bill that would increase penalties for selling tobacco products to people under 21 is making its way through Indiana’s statehouse.
House Bill 1006 had its 3rd reading in the Indiana House Tuesday afternoon. The bill would change the age to purchase tobacco to 21 and increase penalties for those who sell to underage people.
While the Associated Press reports proposals to raise Indiana’s smoking age have failed to advance among lawmakers for several years, a new federal law has already raised the legal limit to purchase tobacco products, along with electronic cigarettes and vaping products, from 18 to 21 nationwide. That provision was part of a massive spending bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump on December 20. Indiana’s bill would bring Indiana law into conformance.
The Associated Press reports that State Health Commissioner Kristina Box told members of the Senate’s health committee that 95% of smokers started before they were 21 and that vaping among teenagers is a growing public health problem. Box said raising the smoking age and tougher penalties on retailers was the “logical next step” to help prevent more people from picking up habits.
The Indiana House passed HB 1006 with an 84-14 vote. It now goes to the Senate, which has been working on its own version of the bill.