Indiana Tobacco Legislation: Most Proposals Are Dead, Two E-Liquid Bills Moving Forward

Mar 5, 2019

An estimated 21 percent of Hoosiers smoke – one of the highest smoking rates in the country. 

But of the nine bills related to smoking, cigarettes, and e-liquids introduced at the Statehouse this session, only two are moving forward. 

A bill to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21 passed out of one Senate committee, but died in a second Senate committee without another hearing. 

Advocates have long lobbied to raise the tax rate on cigarettes, which hasn't been increased since 2007. A recent poll showed 70 percent of Hoosiers support an increased tax, and more than three-fourths say it's important revenue be spent on tobacco prevention. 

Indiana lags in smoking and prevention and cessation funding – it spends 10 percent of the CDC’s recommended amount

But two proposals to increase the tax died this session. One would have raised the tax by $1, and another would have raised it by $2. 

Here are all the bills introduced this session, including the ones that died. 

Bills that didn't clear either chamber could still be amended into surviving legislation.

Bills still moving ahead

HB 1444 - Taxation of electronic cigarettes 

Imposes a tax on electronic cigarettes that contain nicotine at a rate of $0.04 per fluid millileter of consumable material. Deposits the revenue from the tax in the state general fund. 

The bill passed unanimously out of the House Committee on Ways and Means. It passed the full House with a 53-40 vote and was referred to the Senate. 

It has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Appropriations

SB 271 - E-liquid container labeling

Would eliminate a state requirement that an e-liquid manufacturer or a closed system vapor product manufacturer include certain information on an e-liquid container. Removes a duplicative provision that requires the label of an e-liquid container to indicate if the product contains nicotine. 

The bill passed unanimously out of the Senate Committee on Public Policy. It passed the full Senate with a 49-0 vote and was referred to the House. 

It has been assigned to the House Committee on Public Policy

Related: Report Says 12,500+ Hoosiers Died From Tobacco Related Diseases In 2017

Bills that died

HB 1551 - Raising cigarette tax, raising minimum age, various other issues

Would increase the cigarette tax from $0.995 per pack to $1.995 per pack. Would raise the age for people to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21. Would repeal employment protections for people who smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products. 

The bill was assigned to the House Committee on Public Health. It didn't get a hearing. 

HB 1565 - Cigarette taxes

Would increase the cigarette tax from $0.995 per pack to $2.995 per pack. Would appropriate $35 million from the tobacco master settlement agreement fund to the tobacco use prevention and cessation trust fund for the state department of health to implement the long range state plan for the prevention and reduction of the usage of tobacco and tobacco products in Indiana. 

The bill was assigned to the House Committee on Public Health. It didn't get a hearing. 

Related: All The School Safety Bills At The Statehouse This Year

SB 425 - Minimum age to purchase tobacco and e-liquids

Would increase the age for people to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21. The proposal comes with exceptions for service members and veterans.

The bill passed out of the Senate Committee on Health and Provider Services with an 8-2 vote. It was reassigned to the Senate Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy, but didn't get a hearing or a vote. 

SB 34 - Smoking in a motor vehicle with a small child present 

Would establish a Class B infraction for a person who smokes in a vehicle with a child passenger younger than six. If the same offense is committed three four times in a 12 month period, the charge would be a Class A infraction. 

The bill was assigned to the Senate Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law. It did not get a hearing. 

HB 1557 - Sale of tobacco offences

Would raise the penalty for a person selling cigarettes other than in an unopened package from a Class C infraction to a Class B infraction. Would raise the penalty for a person who sells or distributes tobacco or electronic cigarettes to a person younger than age 18 from a Class C infraction to a Class B infraction. 

The bill was assigned to the House Committee on Public Policy. It didn't get a hearing. 

SB 224 - Cigarette tax evasion

Would make it a Level 6 felony for a person to knowingly or intentionally fail to carry invoices or delivery tickets containing certain information while transporting cigarettes that do not bear an Indiana tax stamp over Indiana highways. 

The bill was assigned to the Senate Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law. It didn't get a hearing.

Related: Listen to Noon Edition's Panel on the Teen Vaping Epidemic

HB 1606 - E-liquids taxes

Would impose a tax on e-liquids that contain nicotine at a rate of $0.10 per fluid millileter of consumable product. Would deposit the revenue from the tax in the state general fund and the addiction services fund. 

The bill was assigned to the House Committee on Public Policy. It didn't get a hearing.