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Proposed bill would raise tobacco purchase age to 21

A new bill passed through a committee in the Indiana senate that would raise the legal age of purchasing tobacco to 21. The only exception is if you're active military.

Posted: Feb. 8, 2019 7:01 PM
Updated: Feb. 9, 2019 12:03 AM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - A new bill passed through a committee in the Indiana senate that would raise the legal age of purchasing tobacco to 21. 

"It's a bill that was introduced into the senate to raise the legal age of purchase for tobacco from 18 to 21 and they've made an exception just for people enlisted in the military," said Nancy Cripe with Tobacco Free Allen County. 

Cripe said what she's really pushing for is raising cigarette taxes. 

"That's what we're really pushing for because that will also discourage youth access, and it will have a big impact on adult smoking rate because it really pushes people to quit," Cripe said. 

Cripe said right now Indiana is one of the worst states when it comes to smoking rates. 

"It's like one in five adults smoke," she said. 

Kole Smith at Low Bob's Discount Tobacco said while he supports it, the law would cut part of his customer base. 

"I'd see probably 25 percent of my customer base get lost because we deal with a lot of younger customers, people who are under 21," Smith said. 

Smith said he started smoking at 14 years old. 

"It's been like ten years I've been smoking now. There's definitely been some times I've tried to quit, but that obviously didn't happen," he said. 

Smith said he wishes he hadn't started at all, but it was accessible at a young age. 

"I think it's time that they started doing something about all of the underage smoking because we get kids in here, and people who try to buy when they're under 18 and got to turn them down," he said. 

Nancy Cripe said similar bills have failed in the past, and she isn't sure if this will pass. 

"When you have a high smoking rate, you're not going to have good health in the population and we've got to do something to change that. So, anything that's working that direction is a good thing," she said. 

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