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Indiana lawmakers agree on tougher tobacco sales penalties

JUUL vaping

Legislators advanced an agreement Wednesday reached by Senate and House negotiators on a bill supported by health advocates and business leaders.

Posted: Feb 27, 2020 2:14 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana lawmakers are poised to double the fines stores could face for selling smoking or vaping products to anyone younger than 21 years old.

Legislators advanced an agreement Wednesday reached by Senate and House negotiators on a bill supported by health advocates and business leaders.

The proposal aims to help reduce Indiana’s high smoking rates by making it more difficult for youths to obtain tobacco-related items such as cigarettes or e-cigarette liquids.

The additional penalties are part of a bill increasing Indiana’s minimum age for smoking and vaping from 18 to 21 to conform with a new federal law.

But the Republican-sponsored proposal doesn’t include any additional taxes on cigarettes or regulations on vaping liquids as sought by health advocates.

The agreement would boost the maximum fine against a retailer for a first violation from $200 to $400.

The penalties would increase until a third violation within a year, which would carry a maximum $2,000 fine.

Those levels are compromises from an earlier Senate version that tripled the fines for violations within a six-month period and a House-backed bill that allowed a three-year loss of a store’s tobacco sales certificate after being caught multiple times making improper sales.

Ed Charbonneau, a Valparaiso Republican who is chairman of the Senate’s health committee, said doubling the fines was a sensible step.

“That seems to me to be very reasonable because we haven’t looked back and done anything with the fines for somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 or 11 years,” Charbonneau said.

Indiana State Medical Association President Lisa Hatcher, a family physician from Columbia City, cited studies finding more than 90% of adult smokers started the habit as teenagers and that only about one-quarter of minors are refused sales at Indiana tobacco retailers.

“It is important that we make these penalties stiff and that we enforce them,” Hatcher told the Senate committee.

The House and Senate must still give final approval to the agreement before the legislative session ends in a couple weeks to send it to Gov. Eric Holcomb, who has endorsed tougher retailer penalties.

The Tobacco Free Indiana coalition, which includes the American Heart Association and numerous other groups, has also pushed for raising the state’s cigarette tax as a way of fighting its 21.8% smoking rate among adults that was the 7th highest in the country for 2017, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But those efforts have failed in recent years and legislative leaders said proposals for a cigarette tax increase and for imposing a state tax on vaping liquids won’t be taken up until 2021 when a new two-year state budget is written.

Dr. Richard Feldman, a former state health commissioner, said he was disheartened that lawmakers weren’t cracking down on high-nicotine vaping pods that have been sold in fruit and dessert flavors, including mango, mint and creme.

He said those flavorings “entice children into initiation and continued use of nicotine.”

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1118335

Reported Deaths: 17712
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1455892240
Lake724831254
Allen67063882
Hamilton51060487
St. Joseph49820649
Elkhart40268546
Vanderburgh34714497
Tippecanoe30808276
Johnson27696467
Hendricks26313385
Porter25657386
Madison21131455
Clark20238279
Vigo19059309
LaPorte17192261
Howard16770314
Delaware16761303
Monroe16628220
Kosciusko14293167
Hancock13113186
Bartholomew12983190
Warrick12210190
Wayne12090269
Floyd12011226
Grant11998245
Morgan10409192
Boone9869124
Noble9316122
Henry9177169
Marshall9152147
Dearborn8970100
Dubois8835140
Shelby8281130
Cass8167128
Lawrence8057185
DeKalb7817109
Jackson770793
Huntington7661115
Gibson7102118
Montgomery7101123
Harrison6954100
Knox6915116
Steuben669089
Whitley659660
Miami6595113
Putnam645085
Clinton627179
Wabash6221111
Jasper613192
Jefferson5856105
Ripley557294
Adams542281
Daviess5076117
Scott491580
Wells4836105
White478469
Greene4701101
Clay464662
Decatur4611110
Fayette452496
Jennings452067
LaGrange427491
Posey410044
Randolph3944107
Washington390956
Fountain375964
Fulton364874
Spencer362247
Starke355574
Owen353577
Sullivan348555
Orange331372
Jay331050
Rush309533
Carroll296239
Franklin292744
Perry290553
Vermillion283658
Tipton251167
Parke250130
Pike248644
Blackford222144
Pulaski210359
Newton182452
Brown177550
Crawford169129
Benton168417
Martin152120
Switzerland147612
Warren135816
Union122616
Ohio92413
Unassigned0595

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1717876

Reported Deaths: 26851
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1793291843
Cuyahoga1681592655
Hamilton1137721544
Montgomery805721405
Summit719531210
Lucas630291027
Butler56852814
Stark538501183
Lorain42330645
Warren35959417
Mahoning35798788
Lake32314501
Clermont31289369
Trumbull27344620
Delaware27206185
Licking26658344
Medina26042353
Fairfield24638287
Greene24378373
Clark22122390
Portage21257283
Richland21102342
Wood20128248
Allen18969326
Miami17338352
Columbiana16905335
Muskingum16726207
Wayne15740307
Tuscarawas14454362
Marion13332196
Ashtabula12732237
Erie12685199
Scioto12475188
Pickaway12260155
Ross11719226
Hancock11529175
Geauga10934179
Lawrence10653172
Belmont10459234
Huron9805159
Jefferson9632228
Union957375
Sandusky9348166
Seneca8917161
Knox8792176
Washington8688159
Darke8399181
Athens838197
Ashland8029152
Auglaize7943120
Shelby7511135
Defiance7358117
Crawford7281150
Fulton7215113
Brown7173116
Logan7003111
Guernsey696186
Mercer6933100
Highland6745120
Clinton6526106
Williams650099
Madison649790
Preble6274140
Putnam6244122
Jackson581597
Champaign580887
Perry566779
Coshocton5645108
Ottawa5641102
Morrow517765
Fayette494072
Hardin4895100
Gallia471478
Van Wert467895
Pike465578
Adams4592110
Henry434280
Hocking410193
Holmes3999141
Wyandot377675
Carroll366178
Paulding325451
Meigs305961
Monroe235961
Noble220349
Morgan216939
Harrison213153
Vinton187638
Unassigned06
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Saturday is looking great, with warmer temperatures, wet and windy conditions returning Sunday.
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