Health Group: Indiana Passes on Another Chance to Reduce Smoking Rates
Tuesday, April 27, 2021
INDIANAPOLIS -- Health care advocates in Indiana are once again disheartened to see another legislative session pass without action on the state's cigarette tax.
The $37 billion state budget does not include a proposal to raise the current $1 per pack tax to $1.50.
The American Cancer Society Action Network has long-advocated for a $2 per pack tax, which is slightly higher than the national median of $1.91.
Bryan Hannon, Indiana government relations director for the Network, noted each year, more than 11,000 Hoosiers die as a result of tobacco use.
"It's not just cancer and heart disease," Hannon emphasized. "There's a number of conditions that come along with smoking. It's very much a quiet crisis. It's not front-page news. But when you ignore it for 14 years like our state really has, it starts to add up."
However, Hannon commended lawmakers for approving a 15% sales tax on liquids used in e-cigarettes, the first tax on vaping in the state.
The proposed cigarette-tax increase was expected to raise about $150 million in extra revenue. Hannon believes lawmakers pushed the measure to the side partly due to the influx of federal COVID-19 relief dollars
"That left them with the sense that extra revenue is really not needed, but our cigarette tax is really much more than a good policy," Hannon asserted. "It is the very best public-health policy that lawmakers can act to drive down smoking rates and thereby improve the whole range of health issues."
Hannon contended a $2 per-pack tax would help more than 100,000 Hoosiers quit smoking, or never begin. Currently, 22 states have a cigarette tax of $2 per pack.
References:Indiana 2021-2023 state budget
Report on the Tobacco Epidemic in Indiana and Marion County and Effective Solutions - University of Illinois at Chicago and NBER, Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health in Indianapolis October 2018
Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids cigarette tax rates March 15, 2021
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