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Health, Business Leaders Push Lawmakers For Anti-Smoking Bill

Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar calls smoking both a public health and a workforce development issue.

Health and business leaders called on the legislature Tuesday to support House Bill 1380 at a rally.

The bill would increase the age for buying cigarettes to 21 and add a $1.50 tax per pack of cigarettes.

Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar spoke at the Raise It For Health rally. He says the state’s smoking habit costs employers three weeks a year in lost productivity for smoke breaks and nearly $3 billion in health care expenses.

“That’s money that could be put into salary and wages, into training, into modernization of equipment,” Brinegar says.

HB 1380 would also increase the age for buying cigarettes to 21.

Tobacco Free Indiana Chair Bryan Hannon says 5,700 Hoosiers will pick up the habit this year, many under 21 years old.

“So if we can delay initiation, we’re really going to see youth smoking rates begin to drop,” Hannon says. “And that’s going to happen over time, we wouldn’t see an immediate impact like we would if we raise the cigarette tax.”

In Indiana, one in five Hoosiers smoke, which is higher than the national average.

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