Lawmakers are planning to double fines for stores that sell tobacco products to anyone under 21 years old, according to a WLFI press release. Tobacco products refers to both smoking and vaping devices.
Indiana's current minimum smoking age is 18, but the bill would raise it to 21 in order to comply with a new federal law, per the release. Additionally, if a store were to sell tobacco products to underage individuals, the proposal would raise the fine from its present $200 mark to $400. The fines would then increase to a maximum of $2,000 upon the third infraction of the year.
“That seems to me to be very reasonable because we haven’t looked back and done anything with the fines for somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 or 11 years,” said Ed Charbonneau, a Republican senator and member of the Senate health committee.
The bill does not introduce any new taxes on cigarettes or flavor requirements concerning vaping liquids.
Original versions of the bill advocated for tripling the fine and rescinding a store's tobacco sales certificate for three years if three infractions occurred within the same six-month period, according to the release.
State senators and representatives still need to officially approve the bill before the legislative session ends in mid-March and then send it to Gov. Eric Holcomb.
The agreement, reached by members of both the House and the Senate, aims to reduce Indiana's 21.8% smoking rate, the seventh highest in the nation.