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Health Group: Indiana Passes on Another Chance to Reduce Smoking Rates

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Indiana has an estimated one million smokers. (AdobeStock)
Indiana has an estimated one million smokers. (AdobeStock)
 By Mary Schuermann Kuhlman - Producer, Contact
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.

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