‘Smoker’s bill of rights’ repeal clears the House

By Zoie Richey

INDIANAPOLIS — A bill that would repeal the “Smoker’s Bill of Rights” passed the House Monday and now moves onto the Senate.

The Smoker’s Bill of Rights prevents companies from screening potential hires for tobacco use, which has been linked to illness and decreased productivity. The bill of rights also prevents smokers from being charged higher insurance premiums.

The Alliance for a Healthier Indiana, coalition of Indiana health and business professionals including Anthem, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Indiana Hospital Association, said the repeal will help fight the state’s tobacco addiction.  

“Tobacco use remains a concerning and costly challenge to the health, quality of life and economic development of communities across Indiana,” Bryan Mills, chairman of the alliance, said in a statement.

Rep. Terry Goodin, D-Crothersville, voted against the bill, calling it a slippery slope.

“What keeps the next group from saying, ‘OK, this person overeats and that’s unhealthy so I’m going to charge them on their insurance,’” he said. 

House Bill 1578, authored by Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer, R-Beech Grove, passed the House 54-38.

The legislation originally raised the smoking age from 18 to 21, but a committee removed that provision.

Earlier this legislative session the House approved raising the cigarette tax by $1 per pack in an effort to reduce Hoosier smoking rates as well as help fill a gap in the budget.

Zoie Richey is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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