An effort to raise Indiana’s tobacco tax failed during this year’s legislative session as well as other attempts to reduce smoking in the Hoosier state.
Indiana lawmakers considered measures to increase the cigarette tax by $2, raise the legal smoking age to 21 and place a tax on vaping products.
The Raise it For Health coalition says these moves could lower the state’s high smoking rate, stop young people from picking up the habit and fund public health.
American Cancer Society’s Bryan Hannon chairs the coalition of nearly 200 health, business and community organizations. He says they worked hard to educate legislators on the issue.
"The fact that we’re actually one of the few states to see our smoking rates increase, instead of decline like the rest of the country, it really becomes inexcusable," say Hannon.
Indiana hasn’t raised the cigarette tax in more than a decade.
Hannon says lawmakers were close to passing a tax for vaping products, but that the revenue would have been misplaced.
"It boogles the mind a little bit, if we’re concerned about youth picking up these products and we’re going to tax these products in hopes of deterring youth use but then we don’t send some of that money to tobacco prevention efforts doesn’t really make sense," says Hannon.
More than 1 million Hoosiers smoke. A significant tax increase is a proven way to help people quit. Hannon says the coalition will continue to prioritize the issue.
"One thing about this coalition and the groups that have assembled behind this issue, is that we won’t give up," Hannon says.
Raising the tax by $2 a pack could generate an estimated $350 million annually for public health funding.