A coalition met Wednesday in the Indiana Statehouse to lobby for a $2 increase on the state cigarette tax to prevent tobacco usage.
The Raise It for Health Coalition, a group of more than 200 businesses, health organizations and government entities dedicated to raising the cigarette tax, presented its findings to the media and lawmakers Wednesday in the Indiana Statehouse.
The coalition proposed a $2 cigarette tax increase to help curb smoking among teenagers and adults. The tax is currently 99.5 cents, according to truthinitiative.org.
Bryan Hannon, director of Indiana government relations for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said a bill will be proposed in the Indiana House in the next few days to increase the cigarette tax by $2. The bill will also provide more funds to tobacco cessation and prevention programs.
The tax, if passed, is anticipated to reduce the amount of people smoking in Indiana while also dissuading people, especially adolescents, from picking up a tobacco product.
“Evidence shows us by significantly raising the price, that’s the most effective way of doing it,” Hannon said.
Public opinion polls from the last few years have shown strong, stable public support for raising the tax, Hannon said. Hoosiers are also angry at the state of public health in Indiana.
“The public wants action on the cigarette tax,” Hannon said. “Hoosiers want action from lawmakers and the governor on this.”
The American Cancer Society is committed to lowering the cancer burden in the state, Hannon said. Cancer diagnoses and deaths across the country are declining, but he said Indiana cancer death rates are higher than most states.
Hannon said many of those cancer cases and subsequent deaths can be linked back to behaviors.
“We know if we’re going to make serious inroads on reducing the cancer burden in the state, we’ve got to reduce smoking among people who are currently using cigarettes,” Hannon said.
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