To the editor:

Legislators must raise the legal age for smoking and vaping, plus impose taxes to help stop a health crisis that is plaguing our state and country.

An imminent threat to young people has emerged in the form of e-cigarettes and vaping. Between 2012 and 2018, usage among Indiana high school students increased 387% and nearly as much among middle schoolers. The results have been life-threatening illnesses and deaths. One 21-year-old vaper was told that he has the lungs of a 90-year-old.

Likewise, high adult smoking rates and the resulting health consequences have proved costly to our economy for decades. Yet recently, Indiana lawmakers have declined to raise the cigarette tax, enact an e-cigarette tax or increase the smoking age despite the obvious benefits.

Potential excuses for inaction include 2020 is an election year and not a budget-making session. That does not matter.

Raising the age for legal purchase of all tobacco products, taxing e-cigarettes and increasing the cigarette tax should fall into the “no brainer” category. Families are suffering the tragic consequences of these addictions. Voters have already shown strong support for these commonsense moves.

There can be no more excuses.

Kevin M. Brinegar

President and CEO

Indiana Chamber of Commerce

Indianapolis

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