Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

Indiana Chamber favors increasing smoking age

Posted: Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce released its legislative priorities Monday – including a push to raise the age to buy cigarettes. The Indiana General Assembly gathered for Organization Day yesterday and will come back for a short legislative session on Wednesday, January 3.

The Indiana Chamber’s legislative priority is reducing the state smoking rate. One way the business group proposes to do so is raising the smoking age from 18 to 21. It also wants to repeal a special “Smoker’s Bill of Rights” that currently prohibits companies from screening potential hires for tobacco use. Employers often pay most of the health care coverage cost for employees, and tobacco use can increase that.

Senate Republican floor leader Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, said everyone is aware smoking is bad for you but some people choose to do it anyway. He said it’s alright to have a thoughtful discussion about the appropriate role of public policy regarding smoking but the state shouldn’t “become overbearing in our regulatory approach.”

Speakers of the Indiana House of Representatives Brian Bosma said he has a lot of libertarian-minded members in his caucus and it will be interesting to see them sort through the issue of raising the age to buy tobacco. “I have a bit of difficulty telling somebody that they can go to Iraq and fight for freedom but they can’t buy a pack of cigarettes,” he said.