Indiana House panel backs bill raising smoking age to 21

Indiana's legal age for buying tobacco products would increase from 18 to 21 under a bill backed by a House panel.

The House Public Health committee voted 9-0 Monday on the measure sponsored by Democratic Rep. Charlie Brown of Gary. Brown also wanted to increase Indiana's $1 per pack cigarette tax to $3, but that provision was stripped out by the committee.

Indiana consistently ranks poorly among states when it comes to key measures of public health, including smoking rates.

Brown said raising the age would create a powerful disincentive to smoke. He said that would not only improve health, but also save the state money because many poor people who receive subsidized health care are smokers.

Convenience store associations say an age increase would cut their profit margins.

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