INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Big changes could be coming next year, including the age you can buy cigarette and vaping products. It’s now part of the Indiana Chamber’s top priorities and it’s getting lots of support at the Statehouse.
Indiana Chamber CEO and President Kevin Brinegar said raising the age from 18 to 21 to buy cigarettes and vaping products is a no-brainer.
“We’ve seen a real crisis with young people, in particular, vaping and incurring severe lung injuries and deaths,” said Brinegar.
House Speaker Brian Bosma said the majority of lawmakers seem to agree with this measure.
“Seems to me to be the right thing to do and the right time to do it,” said Bosma.
However, Bosma said he’s not sure if now is the right time to raise taxes on those products.
“It’s probably something we should look at, is there a plan? To my knowledge, I don’t believe there is at this moment,” said Bosma.
State Rep. Terri Austin said the state should pass the cigarette or vaping tax increase now but delay it’s effect date for a year or two so people have time to prepare.
“Plus it also gives us time to collect some additional data and need to make some tweaks on the tax we have the ability to do so,” said Austin.
The chamber would like to raise the cigarette tax to $2 per pack.
“We’re now lowest in all of our surrounding states,” said Brinegar. “There’s a direct correlation between the unhealthiness of a state and how low their cigarette tax rate is.”
The Chamber also suggests strengthening the state’s accountability system for greater transparency and comparability in schools.
“I think our schools are plenty accountable,” said Austin. “And I think to add one more thing at this point is unfair and unrealistic.”
They all agree something needs to be done to lower the cost of health care next year.
“We need to get all the players to the table, the drug manufacturers, the insurers certainly the hospitals, the docs, the nurses,” said Austin.
When asked what’s most important to the Chamber next session, Brinegar said healthcare, fixing a fund issue with unemployment insurance, and making sure there’s a strong plan to transform the state’s water infrastructure and energy strategy.
He’s confident lawmakers will back these efforts in 2020.
For a full list of Indiana Chamber’s goals for next year, click here.