January 16, 2017

Bill Introduced To Raise Cigarette Tax, Increase Prevention Spending In Indiana

Article origination WFYI-FM
A proposed bill would raise Indiana's cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack, among other measures. - stock photo

A proposed bill would raise Indiana's cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack, among other measures.

stock photo

The state legislature will consider a law to curb Indiana’s smoking rate, which is one of the highest in the nation. The proposed bill would raise the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack, among other measures.

More than 11,000 adults die each year from smoking in the state. Nearly one in four adults smoke. But the state also has a low cigarette tax — 99.5 cents per pack — and research shows if people pay more per pack, they’ll be more likely to quit, or less likely to start in the first place.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer, a Republican from Indianapolis, says a few bills have been proposed this session to raise the tax, but that her bill goes further.

“The one I have is a package,” she says. In addition to raising the tax , the bill would change the smoking age to 21, to curb youth smoking. It’s important to keep young people from smoking, she says, because, “it will give the brain more of an opportunity to fully grow and to avoid addiction in the long run.”

The bill also appropriates $35 million for tobacco prevention and cessation initiatives. Currently, the state spends $5.9 million on prevention and cessation efforts, with another $2.2 million in federal funding. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the state spend $73.5 million in order to bring the smoking rate down.

“We’re starting from behind the curve,” says Stephen Jay, a professor at the IUPUI’s Fairbanks School of Public Health who specializes in tobacco research. “So it would make sense that we do more in Indiana, not less.”

Similar efforts to raise the tax have failed in past sessions, but proponents are hopeful that the measure can get through the legislature this year. 

Support independent journalism today. You rely on WFYI to stay informed, and we depend on you to make our work possible. Donate to power our nonprofit reporting today. Give now.


Related News

Judge orders Indiana to strike Ukrainian provision from humanitarian parole driver's license law
Indiana’s gender-affirming care ban for transgender youth takes effect after higher court’s ruling
Ban on gender-affirming care for minors allowed to take effect in Indiana