A little over a quarter of Indiana’s population could be greatly impacted by a bill that just whizzed through its first vote, unanimously.
House bill 1578 has two major components.
One affecting the legal age to smoke cigarettes and the other, on the sin tax amount.
“Everybody has the right and responsibility to make their own choices with what they do with their own body,” says smoker, Chance Stratton.
“It doesn’t bother me because I don’t smoke,” says Shannon Berry.
The public health committee has passed the panel vote to increase the tax on a carton of cigarettes from a $1.50 to $2.50.
It also increases the legal smoking age from 18 to 21.
It’s not yet set in stone, but if the bill passes through the house, it’s on to the senate to repeat the same process.
Then it’ll be on the governor’s desk, waiting for a signature.
“I don’t smoke and I don’t think a lot of people should be smoking, even teenagers, cause they’re young and if they start smoking, you know, they’re gonna end up having cancer and stuff,” says William Berry.
“I believe that it’s unjustified and frankly, unconstitutional to do that,” says Stratton. “I would say that this is a poor decision for Indiana to make and for the citizens of Indiana.”
While some in the Wabash Valley have opposing opinions, another concern from citizens is the thought of a black market for cheaper cigarettes.
“In the constitution is says states have the right to govern themselves,” says Stratton. “And if one state makes the decision that people don’t like the beautiful process of capitalism says that people go elsewhere with their money.”
Aside from the negatives, other’s think more restrictions may have significant health benefits.
“I think pregnant women shouldn’t smoke at all, period,” says William Berry. “Because of the baby, you know. Birth defects and all that stuff. Yeah, I don’t think it’s right.”
The bill still potentially has a while before it’s signed into law.
Next, the full house will vote on the bill.
But until then, we wait.
The bill’s author, Cindy Kirchhofer offered an amendment to the proposed bill, which would allow those who are 18 and possess a military ID to be able to purchase cigarettes at that age.
The bill was passed without the amendment.