(On Jan. 28,) the Indiana House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee passed House Bill 1001, which includes a $1 tax increase on cigarettes. Proceeds from the tax will be allocated to Medicaid. This is a big win for the health of all Hoosiers. Increasing the tax on cigarettes will affect the health, both physically and fiscally, of the state. Indiana lawmakers finally are recognizing that the tax, which has been in place since 2007, is $0.99 lower than most surrounding states and ranks 34th nationally, needs to increase. The adult smoking rate in Indiana is 22.9 percent, six percent higher than the national average. Tax and policy are proven to be the best ways to curb smoking.
Increasing the tax by $1 promises to do the following:
- Lead to as much as a 7-percent decline in adult smoking rates.
- Provide 1.4 billion dollars in long-term health care cost.
- Decrease youth smoking by 12 percent over time.
- Prevent 20,400 premature smoking deaths.
About 77 percent of Hoosiers support using increased tobacco taxes as revenue generator. If you support the tax increase, contact your legislators and let them know. As House Bill 1001 moves to the Senate, it’s even more critical to communicate your support of increasing the tax to protect youth, assist this who smoke to quit and to improve the state’s fiscal viability.
Assistant Director, Partnership for Healthy Hamilton County