January 25, 2023

Tobacco contributes to 11K Hoosier deaths each year. Is Indiana doing enough?


The 2023 report suggests Indiana increase funding for the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commission and increase tax on tobacco products by at least $2. - Bárbara Anguiano/IPB News

The 2023 report suggests Indiana increase funding for the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commission and increase tax on tobacco products by at least $2.

Bárbara Anguiano/IPB News

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and contributes to the deaths of 11,000 Hoosiers each year. A new report from the American Lung Association shows Indiana lags behind the nation in policy efforts to reduce tobacco use.

The annual State of Tobacco Control Report assesses state and federal policies to reduce tobacco use. The report grades five areas proven to prevent tobacco use: funding for state tobacco prevention programs, strength of smoke free workplace laws, level of state tobacco taxes, coverage and access to services to quit tobacco, and ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products.

Indiana received a C or below in all five areas.

Indiana received an F in funding and taxes, said Tiffany Nichols, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Indiana.

“We don't fund our tobacco prevention and cessation program nowhere near the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] recommended level,” Nichols said. “In fact, we only funded at about 12.7 percent of the CDC recommended level. Our tobacco tax hasn't been raised since 2007. In fact, that is one of the lowest in the Midwest.”

The CDC recommends Indiana should spend $73.5 million on tobacco prevention programs. The state currently spends just over $9.3 million on prevention programs. Indiana’s current cigarette tax is $0.995 per pack of 20 cigarettes. The 2023 report suggests Indiana increase funding for the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commission, and increase tax on tobacco products by at least $2.

Nichols said she hopes Indiana lawmakers will look at the report and create legislation to reduce tobacco use.

“We would like the General Assembly to look at these grades and understand that these are actual Hoosiers, these are Hoosier lives,” Nichols said. “These are not just numbers on paper.”

Legislation has been introduced this session to increase the cigarette tax by $1.

The adult smoking rate in Indiana is 17.3 percent, and the high school tobacco use rate is nearly 22.9 percent.

Contact reporter Darian Benson at dbenson@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @HelloImDarian

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