Indiana lawmakers recently struck down a bill raising the cigarette tax from $0.99 per pack to $1.50 per pack.
The tax hasn’t been raised since 2007, but the Editorial Board believes raising the tax is a good idea.
Not only is the higher tax discouraging future and low commitment smokers, but for those who are willing to pay the extra tax, it will fill a hole in the state’s budget.
In Indiana, a pack of cigarettes is usually $5.97. Comparatively, Illinois packs go for $11.50, Iowa sells them for $6.29 and Missouri sells them for the cheapest at $5.25. Raise It For Health is an organization in Indiana that aims to make the state tobacco-free by raising the tax $1.50 like the Senate wants to. The organization’s site claims that if the tax were to increase as such, the state would rake in an additional $300 million annually.
One fifth of the state’s population smokes, and because of this, smoking costs Indiana $2.9 billion in health care services, according to Raise It For Health.
The organization quotes the United States surgeon general in hopes that, by decreasing the amount of people who smoke, overall drug use in Indiana will decrease.
Along with raising the price of cigarettes, people want to raise the smoking age to 21. Since 2015, many big cities like New York City, Cleveland and San Francisco have raised the smoking age to lessen availability of cigarettes to minors.
Tobacco21 is an organizational site that promotes the nationwide raising of the age. They back up their pushing by saying that 18 is too young to be exposing young adults to chemically altering substances. To put it in perspective, states that have legalized recreational use of marijuana set the age at 21.
This is an intriguing idea to think about. Many people would rather not have to wait until they turn 21 to smoke because it doesn’t seem as dangerous to them as alcohol. However, it seems to us that if you have to wait until you turn 21 to smoke marijuana, a less dangerous substance than tobacco, then maybe we should have to wait the same time to smoke cigarettes.
We think it would be in Indiana’s best interest to at least raise the tax on cigarettes.
The pros outweigh the cons. The state will earn more money from the lifetime smokers and those who are stubborn about quitting, while those who quit or abstain because of the tax will live healthier lives.
We are not shaming those who smoke or would choose to continue to smoke if the tax was ever raised. However, the chance of helping those who need a push to quit is too great to pass up.