Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar has strong words for the General Assembly following the effective end of a bill that would've raised the state's legal smoking age to 21. "There is no valid reason why House Bill 1380 - which passed the House Public Health Committee unanimously Monday - wasn't allowed to make it to the House floor for a vote," he said in a statement. Brinegar cited Indiana University School of Public Health figures that suggest smoking is a more than $6 billion a year drag on the economy. In a Studio(i) interview prior to Tuesday's full House session, Brinegar told Gerry Dick only tobacco companies win with the status quo. He said smoking leads to "real lost productivity" by workers, causing employers to lose "real money."

Brinegar continued in a statement that followed the gavel in the House session Tuesday: "The Indiana Chamber is extremely disappointed in the decision by the House Republican caucus to kill legislation aimed at reducing the state's high smoking rate and the costs associated with that. The true victims, of course, are the individuals who suffer the health consequences due to their smoking addiction."

House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-88) referred HB 1380 Tuesday to the House Ways and Means Committee -- an action allowed under House Rule 127 -- before the bill could reach the House floor. The bill would have to clear that committee then receive a second reading in the House before being eligible again for a vote by the full House. Monday is the final day for the House to vote on bills originating in the House.

Had the bill reached the full House, Brinegar believed it would've received a favorable vote.