Indianapolis, In. — This week, the Raise it for Health coalition delivered letters to Senate leadership urging lawmakers to raise the cigarette tax by $2 per pack to improve Hoosier health and prevent Indiana’s public health rankings from dropping to worst in the nation. Prior to mid-session recess, the House of Representatives failed to include the cigarette tax in their 2019 budget – dismissing Hoosier health amid a tobacco-related public health crisis.
The letters, endorsed by more than 85 Hoosier business and organizations, urged Senator lawmakers to act now for the 11,000 Hoosiers who die each year from tobacco-related illnesses. They warned that Indiana currently ranks of 44th in the United States for adult smoking rates and without action this year, in the way of a cigarette tax increase, Indiana will be on the Road to 50th.
“Raising the cigarette tax is the most-effective measure we can take to decrease tobacco-related diseases and increase our health ranking,” said Bryan Hannon, government relations director at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “We cannot wait another year for lawmakers to address this public health concern. They must act now.”
A cigarette tax increase in Indiana would reverse the current health rankings, have an immediate, positive impact on our state and reduce the number of Hoosiers, both young and old, affected by cigarette smoke.
Lawmakers have been highly unresponsive, despite strong constituent support and an outcry from the Hoosier business community. Several organizations endorsing today’s letter provided further comment.
“Tobacco use is dragging down our state in so many ways,” said Nick Torres, director of tobacco control and advocacy at American Lung Association in Indiana. “Being on the Road to 50th means more and more Hoosiers will suffer and die from chronic lung disease.”
“As a healthcare provider that is committed to improving the health of the communities it serves, we know raising the cigarette tax is an effective tool in improving Indiana’s overall health,” said Tory Callaghan Castor president of government affairs at IU Health.
“We see the devastating effects of tobacco use in our office every single day,” said Teresa Lovins, M.D. and representative at Indiana Academy of Family Physicians. “Unfortunately, we cannot save everyone. Raising the cigarette tax by $2 would help thousands of our patients quit and prevent thousands more from ever starting.”
Currently, Indiana’s cigarette tax is the 14th lowest in the nation and has not been raised in over a decade. In 2018, a poll of Indiana voters showed all party and political affiliations strongly support raising the state’s cigarette tax as a smart solution to improve Indiana’s critically poor public health.
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