Indiana has the seventh-highest adult smoking rate in the country. Hoosier youth are joining in too, as the popularity of e-cigarette products rises despite potential harmful health risks. This session, I co-authored legislation aiming to decrease Indiana’s smoking and vaping rates.
Vaping devices typically contain nicotine and other chemicals and are advertised as healthier alternatives to cigarettes. Also known as e-cigarettes, these products often have ingredients such as diacetyl, nickel and tin that have been linked to serious illnesses and injuries when inhaled.
Alarmingly, e-cigarettes have become increasingly popular among teens. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1 in 4 high school students use e-cigarettes. Being small in size and similar in design to a USB device, these products are easily hidden, making them tough for parents and teachers to notice and prevent students from smoking. Despite the myth that e-cigarettes are less dangerous than traditional cigarettes, recent research has found that they are far from harmless. The Indiana State Department of Health has confirmed 60 lung injuries and six Hoosier deaths related to vaping.
Proposed legislation would align Indiana’s smoking age with federal law by raising the legal age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21, including e-cigarettes and vaping products. The proposal would also include increased penalties for businesses that sell tobacco to underage consumers. With nearly every Hoosier smoker having tried their first cigarette before 21, this legislation could significantly decrease smoking rates going forward.
To aid these efforts, the ISDH partnered with Truth Initiative to launch This is Quitting, a free text message program for teens and young adults who want to quit using e-cigarettes. This program could further help in reducing the tobacco use among teens.
Raising Indiana’s legal age to buy tobacco, including e-cigarettes, could help curb teen use of the potentially dangerous products. To get help with quitting tobacco, contact Indiana’s Tobacco Quitline at in.gov/quitline or 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
State Rep. Bob Cherry (R-Greenfield) represents House District 53,
which includes portions of Hancock and Madison counties.
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