Senator Young South Bend Smoking age 21At the Salvation Army Kroc Center in South Bend, U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) Wednesday joined students  and  representatives from Smoke Free St. Joe and the Indiana Chamber to make the case for his Tobacco to 21 Act, which would raise the federal minimum tobacco age to 21. Senator Young outlined the alarming statistics in Indiana, where tobacco use continues to be the single-most preventable cause of death and disease. Indiana ranks 45th in the nation in percentage of smokers, with a smoking rate of 21.8 percent, and smoking leads to approximately $2.93 billion in annual health care costs in Indiana.

“Raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products is the best and most achievable step we can take to save lives and control the cost of healthcare,” said Senator Young. “With vaping and e-cigarette use on the rise among middle and high school students, we have to act now to protect Hoosier children. This is the number one topic of conversation in PTO meetings and households around the country, including my own. I have young children in school and I’m very concerned about what’s occurring.”

Senator Young recently introduced the Tobacco to 21 Act along with Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah). The bipartisan bill has received widespread support by health organizations and advocates, and recent polling shows that 75 percent of Hoosiers support raising the legal age. The South Bend Tribune editorial board endorsed the Tobacco to 21 Act earlier this month.