Indiana Senate Bill to raise smoking age to 21 on hold

("Cigarettes" by Curran Kelleher, CC BY 2.0)

A cigarette tax hike isn’t the only anti-smoking measure running into trouble at the statehouse.

The Senate Health Committee voted to raise the smoking age to 21. But the bill never got a second hearing required to bring it to the full Senate, because locking out three years’ worth of customers would cost the state an estimated $14 million.

Although Tax and Fiscal Policy Chairman Travis Holdman (R-Markle) let a deadline pass without hearing the bill, he says he’s still open to amending it into another bill later. But he says Senate Republicans will have to discuss it.

Logansport Republican Randy Head says he’ll try to add the smoking age to another bill next month. A House-passed bill to tax vaping fluid gives the proposal a ready-made vehicle to attach it to.

Head says raising the age would save billions over the long term by reducing health costs. He notes there’s been little enthusiasm for the cigarette tax, and says that leaves raising the age as the best remaining tool to bring down smoking rates. He acknowledges some teenagers would still find a way to get around the law, but says that’s true of any law. He says the estimated lost tax money shows the restriction would have an impact.