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Report: Indiana Needs to Step Up Anti-Tobacco Spending

Nearly 21 percent of adults in Indiana and 12 percent of high school students smoke. (cdc.gov)
Nearly 21 percent of adults in Indiana and 12 percent of high school students smoke. (cdc.gov)
December 16, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana gets millions each year from the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement - and yet it spends just a fraction of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends on smoking prevention and cessation programs, for which the money was intended.

A new report, "Broken Promises to Our Children," issued by a coalition of health-advocacy groups, said Indiana will collect $579 million but will spend only 1 percent of the money on tobacco-prevention programs. Tim Harms, a spokesman for Tobacco-Free Indiana, said the state needs to step up its game.

"That really allows the state to put programs in only 36 counties," he said. "Of course, Indiana has 92 counties, so we're in less than half the counties right now."

Twelve percent of high school students in Indiana smoke, and nearly 16 percent use e-cigarettes. The adult smoking rate is nearly 21 percent.

There's an effort under way in Indiana to raise the tax on cigarettes. The Tobacco Free Indiana Coalition is asking the state Legislature to raise it from 99.5 cents to $2.49 per pack. Harms said studies have shown the price of tobacco has the biggest impact on whether adults and kids smoke.

"Youth are very price-sensitive, with what they have for discretionary income," he said. "It's estimated that if we were to raise the Indiana tax by $1.50 per pack, we would help 4,100 Indiana youths from becoming daily smokers every single year. "

Tobacco companies spend $284 million each year to market tobacco products. In Indiana, that's 48 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention. Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $9.1 billion a year on marketing - more than $1 million every hour.

The report is online at tfk.org/statereport.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN