Indiana News

Will Congress raise age to buy tobacco, vape products from 18 to 21?

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — One of Indiana’s U.S. senators is part of a push to raise the age at which people can buy tobacco and vape products across the nation. 

Republican Sen. Todd Young spoke Friday at Carmel High School about new legislation to raise that age from 18 to 21. 

“In some cases, some vaping devices or cartridges have as much nicotine as actually an entire pack of cigarettes,” said Dr. Dave Kiley, the Indianapolis region president for Community Health Network, said at the high school. “So, extremely addictive to young people.” 

The doctor said more Hoosier teens are lighting up with tobacco and it’s getting worse. He said that’s why he supports the idea of raising the tobacco buying age from 18 to 21. 

Kiley said, “We think just giving this age of young people a chance to mature more, allow their minds to mature more and actually better understand, as adults, what the risks might be involved with this.” 

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Working with a few other Republican and Democratic U.S. senator on the Tobacco to 21 Act, Young said he wants to raise the federal minimum age to buy tobacco, including vapor products, to 21. 

“We have a national epidemic on our hands,” Young said. “Carmel High School resource officers indicate just last year there was a surge in the number of students that were seen by the nurses on account of vaping.” 

The senator said he has a meeting with President Donald Trump next week to talk about raising the national age for purchasing tobacco and vape products. 

The leader of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce also spoke at Carmel High School. He said the effects of smoking cost the state billions of dollars. 

“We pay the impact of this in our health care premiums, in lost productivity and absenteeism from smoking-related illnesses,” said Kevin Brinegar, president and CEO of Indiana Chamber of Commerce.  “That costs businesses in Indiana $6.2 billion a year in smoking-related illnesses and activities.” 

Of 10 random people News 8 spoke with Friday, most favored raising the tobacco buying age to 21.

Janette Gengenbach said, “I think they’re too young to really make those decisions.” 

Not everyone agreed.

Ryan Ellsworth said, “I feel like young folk would probably resist that even more and find a way to do it anyway. I think 18 is OK.”