Indiana’s current state tax on a pack of smokes is 99.5 cents – the 14th lowest state tax.
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – As if smokers didn’t have enough reason to quit, there's another push to raise Indiana's cigarette tax by $2 per pack.
One in five Hoosier adults smoke cigarettes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than one in 10 Indiana high school students use cigarettes.
The Raise it for Health Coalition believes it is no coincidence Indiana has the 42nd highest rate of smokers in the nation. The current 99.5 cents per pack tax is among the lowest in the nation.
During a coalition rally at the Indiana Statehouse on Thursday, pediatrician Emily Scott gave reasons for Indiana lawmakers to raise the price per pack.
“We have to do what we can to reduce tobacco exposure in Indiana’s children, and raising the price of tobacco products is a great place to start,” she said.
Dr. Scott says raising the price of cigarettes can also help reinvest in additional health benefits for Hoosiers. She noted that even though the state is rated in the top ten states in the country for obesity, smoking, maternal and infant mortality, state spending for public health ranks just 49th of 50 states. Scott adds that if a woman smokes during pregnancy, she is at risk of not having a healthy baby.
The Raise It For Health Coalition is made up of more than 130 organizations, including Tobacco Free Indiana, the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana, the Indiana Chamber, and the Indiana Hospital Association.
“11,000 Hoosiers die every year from smoking,” said Bryan Mills, CEO of Community Health Network and Chair of the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana, “and almost every health issue in the state can be linked back to smoking.”
The cigarette tax increase is supported by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Smoking has a negative effect on the state’s workforce – a factor considered by companies who may otherwise locate in Indiana.
“If Indiana wants to be state that works, it can’t afford to be a state that smokes,” Kevin Brinegar, President of the Indiana Chamber, said. “Tobacco has a devastating effect on Indiana’s workforce, and Indiana’s businesses.”
The coalition says smoking costs the state more than $7.6 billion a year in health care expenses, productivity losses and premature death.
Previous efforts to raise the price of cigarettes by $1 per pack have faltered in the Indiana General Assembly. A bill seeking to raise the state's minimum tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21 died in the 2018 legislative session.