Health / December 16, 2013

Lost Tobacco Funds Could Hurt Indiana's Health

Jill Sheridan
Lost Tobacco Funds Could Hurt Indiana's Health

Indiana is set to lose $63 million in tobacco settlement money next year, affecting numerous health organizations.

The Hoosier state is one of six that may be losing millions after a federal arbitration panel determined that the state hadn’t done enough to make sure smaller cigarette companies were complying with a 1998 tobacco settlement. 

Right now the state receives about $131 million from tobacco companies every year.

These dollars are used to pay for numerous health-related programs like the Children's Health Insurance Program and WIC, but only a small percent goes toward smoking cessation programs.

Debi Hudson is the project director of a program called Bringing Indiana Along and works at IU Health’s Simon Cancer Center. She says Indiana falls short when it comes to helping smokers quit and that lawmakers need to focus on this area. 

"Funding a good comprehensive program, smoke-free air policies and higher taxes and prices on all tobacco products, we know that works," says Hudson.

In recent years, Indiana has made major cuts in tobacco prevention programs affecting the health of everyone from teens to pregnant women to mental health patients.  

Hudson says that leads tobacco companies to target Indiana residents with advertising spending 47 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention. 

Indiana is appealing the panel’s decision to cut the funds.