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House Committee Votes To Increase Smoking Age To 21

A man blowing smoke from a cigarette

Photo: WFIU/WTIU News

The proposed legislation would raise the minimum smoking age from 18 to 21.

Hoosiers age 18 to 20 would no longer be able to buy cigarettes under legislation unanimously approved by the House Public Health Committee Monday.

There’s a common argument made against the bill to raise the minimum smoking age to 21: that those old enough to serve in the military shouldn’t be barred from smoking.

Former Army National Guard Deputy Surgeon General David Wilmot dismisses that argument.

“I would argue that they are even more effective as military members when they are free from the effects of drugs, which includes tobacco,” Wilmot says.

Convenience stores oppose the measure outright – they’ll lose money if it passes.

The Indiana Smoke-Free Alliance opposes part of it. The group promotes e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking. And Alliance President Amy Lane says the bill shouldn’t treat vaping and traditional cigarettes the same.

“I’m not going to debate that it’s bad for you or good for you,” Lane says. “What I’m trying to debate is simply I want options left on the table for 18- to 20-year-olds.”

The legislation also originally included a provision to increase the state’s cigarette by $2 per pack. That language was stripped from the bill without objection. Committee Chair Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer (R-Beech Grove) says it’s an issue for a budget-writing session.

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