Cigarette tax bill clears Indiana House panel

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana could bar minors under 21 from buying cigarettes and raise the tax per pack by $1.50 under a measure approved by a House panel.

Republican Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer of Beech Grove says the bill will help address the state’s high smoking rates and improve Indiana’s overall health. The measure also removes employment protections for smokers and directs more money to tobacco-cessation programs.

The panel approved it 11-0 Wednesday, sending it on to the House Ways and Means Committee.

An approved amendment recommends revenue be dedicated to health-related matters. Kirchhofer says she doesn’t want funds going to roads or other appropriations.

Some critics contend the tax hike would hurt convenience stores and other retailers. They say Indiana would lose a competitive advantage it currently enjoys over some states.

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