Coalition seeks increase in cigarette tax

first_imgIndianapolis, In. — The Raise it for Health Coalition rallied at the Statehouse and 14 other events across the state to launch a campaign to improve Indiana’s workforce and Hoosiers’ health by increasing the cigarette tax by $2.00 per pack.Bringing together business, health and youth leaders, the Raise It For Health Coalition is made up of more than 130 partner organizations, including Tobacco Free Indiana, the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana, the Indiana Chamber, and the Indiana Hospital Association.The simplest and most effective way to reduce smoking rates and improve Indiana’s health is to raise the cigarette tax. A $2.00 per pack increase would raise over $350 million to invest in the workforce, improve the business climate, and reduce tobacco use – especially for children under 18.With the revenue raised from the tax increase, Indiana can take its commitment to health from the bottom 10 to the top 10. Poor health gets in the way of a growing Hoosier economy and any budget without this measure is a missed opportunity to keep Indiana moving.Indiana has more job openings than healthy Hoosiers and smoking costs the state over $7.6 billion every year in healthcare expenses, productivity losses, and premature death.“11,000 Hoosiers die every year from smoking,” Bryan Mills, CEO of Community Health Network and Chair of the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana, said, “and almost every health issue in the state can be linked back to smoking.”Indiana has the 42nd highest rate of smokers in the nation, more than double the national average, with 1 million Hoosiers smoking every day. At 99.5 cents a pack, Indiana’s cigarette tax is the 14th lowest in the nation and lower than every neighboring state except one.The state’s low public health rankings, including bottom statistics in infant mortality and overall health, stand in stark contrast to its open and booming economic environment.Indiana’s health problems negatively impact its economic prospects. Workforce health is a key factor in company decisions to expand and relocate and tobacco hurts that effort.“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.”A key to cracking the workforce code, Brinegar continued, is to cut smoking. The truth is smoking hurts our workforce, now and in the future.Over 150,000 Indiana kids alive today will die from smoking if current trends continue – and 31,000 high schoolers smoke right now.There is vast public support for increasing the cigarette tax. Following a 17 stop Healthier Alliance for Indiana town hall tour, 17 Mayor’s Proclamations were issued and 5,000 postcards have been signed to date in support of the measure.“7 out of 10 Hoosiers support a common-sense cigarette tax increase,” Bryan Hannon, Chair of Tobacco Free Indiana and Raise it for Health, said, “Policymakers need to join the fight against tobacco if we’re going to cut smoking in Indiana.”last_img

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