Senator Todd Young discusses Tobacco to 21 Act

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Krista Kane, a junior at West Vigo High School, says tobacco products, E-cigs, and vapes are commonly seen on school grounds.

“It’s in the bathrooms. When you go into the bathroom and you see a crowd, you automatically know that they’re smoking,” Kane said.

According to local health officials, this trend of tobacco usage in the Wabash Valley is something that continues into adulthood.

“One in four adults are smokers, one in five women smoke, Vermillion County leads the state in the number of cardiovascular deaths,” said Nathan Voys, CEO of Regional Hospital and Chairman of Better Health Wabash Valley.

To combat what the U.S. Surgeon General is calling an epidemic, lawmakers including Senator Todd Young created the Tobacco to 21 Act. This act would raise the legal age of purchasing tobacco in all fifty states to the age of 21.

“We need to raise the age in order to prevent use during a very impressionable age,” Young said.

Young says health effects are one of the core reasons he feels this legislation is necessary.

“People are losing days of productivity at work and at school, there’s asthma and breathing problems that people acquire,” Young said.

The act has been supported by both Senate republicans and democrats, but Young says he’s also seen support for this legislation from Hoosiers.

“This is the direction that Hoosiers want. 75% of Hoosiers according to a recent survey indicated that they support this action,” Young said.

Voys believes that by the raising the tobacco purchasing age to 21 nationwide it could have positive impacts on communities like the Wabash Valley.

“We just don’t look good from a health metrics standpoint. So anything that we can do limit cigarette usage or people starting cigarette usage will be a huge impact on the health of this community,” Voys said.

Young says there is no language in the act that will create any fines or punishments if a person under 21 is found with tobacco products.

This legislation must pass through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, before President Trump can sign it into law.

Young hopes to have this done within the next three months.

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