Clearing the Air on Cigarette Law

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ISU student Jerrell Richmond is on a cigarette break, joining other smokers at a spot on campus that’s known as the “bud hut.” 

He started lighting up when he joined the military. 

“It relieves a lot of the stress personally,” Jerrel Richmond said.  

Richmond says he goes through a pack a week and soon the cost of his habit could go up if House Bill 1380 is passed. 

On Monday, a House Committee approved the bill that looks to increase Indiana’s Cigarette Tax by two dollars a pack and raise the tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21 years old. 

Something Richmond, doesn’t want to see.  

“No, I feel like you will still break the law or still have someone else buy you cigarettes if the law was in effect,” Richmond said. 

Over the past few years Vigo County Tobacco Coordinator, Libby Ray has seen an increase in attention on the issue.

“I think there’s a growing recognition that while tobacco may not appear to have the same immediate impact on our community that some other issues do it has some really devastating long term affects,” Libby Ray said.  

A study by the American Lung Association found 95% of adult smokers started before the age 21.

For Ray, raising the age to purchase makes sense. 

“Research shows that people are more likely to become regular base daily smokers between the ages of 18 and 21,” Ray said. “And so raising the legal to purchase to 21 can help reduce the likely hood that a significant number of youth will become regular daily smokers.”

For now, Richmond says he will continue to light up.  

“It will work eventually, you know ten, twenty years down the road it will definitely detour people from smoking, yes I do believe that,” Richmond said. “But I don’t think it will stop anybody now, no.” 

The legislation now moves to the full house for consideration.

If it passes both chambers and the Governor signs it Indiana would join states like California and Hawaii and become the 6th state to have the legal age to buy cigarettes raised to 21. 

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