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Consensus Reached On Smoking Age Increase Legislation


House and Senate lawmakers have reached consensus on what the final version of the bill to increase the smoking age will look like.

That’s even as some health advocates push for further changes.

The likely final version of the bill will increase the legal age to smoke and vape from 18 to 21, in compliance with federal law. It also doubles the fines for retailers who sell to those underage – something retailer lobbyists support.

But it keeps in place the existing fines for youths who use or possess tobacco products, which could be up to $500. Health advocates – like former State Health Commissioner Richard Feldman – say the better approach is to limit those fines.

“Rather, they should be offered treatment and education on the dangers of tobacco addiction,” Feldman says.

Feldman says he’s also disappointed the General Assembly isn’t banning flavored vaping products, which he says entice children to use them.

Contact Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.