New state law sets smoking age at 21

MISHAWAKA, Ind. - A new state law banning smoking under the age of 21 goes into effect Wednesday. Now, there is a federal law that prohibits anyone under 21 to smoke tobacco but this new state law also includes e-cigarettes and e-liquids and almost doubles fines for retailers who sell the addictive products to minors.

“It protects a lot of kids who may not start smoking because it’s not as easy to get their hands on," Sandi Pontius, a representative of Smoke-Free St. Joe said.

The new smoking law taking effect in Indiana Wednesday is on top of a federal law that already exists prohibiting those under 21 from buying tobacco products, but this law moves the age requirement to buy e-cigarettes and vape juice from 18 to 21.

“It will be more difficult for young people to get their hands on these products that are addicting them leading to health issues as possible future tobacco combustible cigarette smoking," Pontius said.

The new law also forbids the sale of products containing Vitamin E Acetate, which is linked to vaping-related lung illnesses and deaths nationwide.

And it increases fines and criminal penalties for retailers who sell to minors.

“Hopefully this will motivate retailers to watch what they are doing," she said. "It’s not just about money but it’s also about health and protecting our youth and cutting the instances of smoking.”

The new regulations may cost some stores customers but the manager of cravin’ vapes in Mishawaka says she’s all for the change.

“We support it. Anything that the vaping industry can do to help prevent teen vaping, we’re all for. The vaping industry is here to help adults curb addiction not to really start new addictions," Taylor Seymour, the manager of Cravin’ Vapes in Mishawaka said.

Even though the new law will likely affect her store’s bottom line.

“It’ll affect business but at the same time as much as we appreciate all the business we were getting as I said, we don’t really want kids coming in wanting to start a new addiction," she said.

This law was put into effect to reduce the number of minors using e-cigs, something that could later turn to a cigarette addiction

“Leading up there was definitely an increase in business. 18,19,20-year-olds trying getting the last that they can for the few years before they turn 21," she said.

This past week, Seymour said several minors have come into her store to get what they can before the law goes into effect.

As for those at Smoke-Free St. Joe, this isn't the end, Pontius said there is still more that needs to be done.

“We would really love to see flavors be banned because when you speak with youth, one of the biggest reasons they use these e-cigarettes is because of the fun flavors," she said.

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