INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Indiana House Republicans killed a bill on Tuesday that would have increased
the legal age for buying tobacco products from 18 to 21.
The measure by
Democratic Rep. Charlie Brown, who is retiring this year, was supposed to be
a capstone achievement after more than 30 years representing Gary in the
General Assembly. Instead, Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma used a
procedural maneuver to kill the bill - just one day after the House Public
Health Committee approved it on a 9-0 vote.
consistently ranks poorly among states when it comes to key measures of
public health, including smoking rates. Increasing the smoking age could
create a powerful disincentive in a state where one-in-five people smoke,
supporters of the bill said.
justified their decision, stating that their own calculations indicate it
would cost the state $14 million a year in lost cigarette tax revenue.
But Brown argued
that the bill would actually save money in the long run because many smokers
depend on the state for health care coverage. His logic: if fewer people
smoke, the cost of health care to the state would decrease, as well.
“This one hurts to
the core,” Brown said. “To get this close and to know there’s no rhyme or
reason for denying this piece of legislation.”
maneuver earned them a rare - and sharp - rebuke from the Indiana Chamber of
Commerce, which has made raising the smoking age a top priority.
Kevin Brinegar said there was “no valid reason why” the bill shouldn’t be
brought up for a vote, adding that the organization was “extremely
“The true victims,
of course, are the individuals who suffer the health consequences due to
their smoking addiction,” he said in a statement. “It’s too bad House
Republicans abruptly decided they didn’t want to vote on this important
those characterizations of the House GOP’s motives. He said the bill could
have an immediate financial impact, which meant it needed more vetting.
“What ... has been
depicted by some as my move to kill this measure is inaccurate,” Bosma said.
“It was actually following our rules.”