FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmail Bill To Raise Smoking Age Undergoes Small Changes In House By Victoria Ratliff TheStatehousefile.comINDIANAPOLIS—A bill to raise the smoking and vaping age from 18 to 21 underwent minor changes on the floor of the Indiana House Thursday to add penalties for those who are caught with tobacco products.House Bill 1006 follows the federal government’s Dec. 20 law which raises the legal smoking and vaping age to 21. The author, Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer, R- Beech Grove, said her bill was filed to establishes penalties so the violations of the new anti-smoking law can be prosecuted.Kirchhofer’s original version of the bill had no penalties for users, which had been in state law when smoking under age 18 was illegal. Her amendment, which passed in a unanimous voice vote, restored those penalties. Vendors also face penalties for selling to minors.An amendment by Rep. J.D. Prescott, R-Union City, also passed in a unanimous voice vote to make it a Class B infraction for retailers who are caught selling tobacco or nicotine-containing Vitamin E acetate. The maximum fine is $1,000.The Centers for Disease Control found that when Vitamin E acetate is inhaled it could interfere with normal lung functions and could lead to EVALI, which stands for E-cigarette, or vaping product use-associated lung injury and a newly-identified disease linked to vaping.Not all agreed that the small fine was enough. Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, filed an amendment to make the penalty for retailers who are caught selling tobacco or nicotine-containing vitamin E acetate a Class A infraction, which has a penalty of up to $10,000.Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, lost an effort to raise the penalty for adding Vitamin E to vaping products. Photo by Lacey Watt, TheStateHouseFile.com.Austin argued that vitamin E acetate isn’t found in legal cigarettes or e-cigarette liquids but in “underground” or off-market products.“If you’re someone engaged in the underground market, $1,000 is probably not much to you,” she said. “I think we need to hit people where it hurts. We have got to send a strong message, and the truth is we have to have a strong penalty.”Kirchhofer said the discussion should have taken place in the health committee to learn about the consequences of changing the infractions.The amendment failed 40-57.The bill now goes to House for a final vote.FOOTNOTE: Victoria Ratliff is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.