May. 2 2011
WASHINGTON, DC — Indiana lawmakers have sided with the tobacco industry over kids by approving a budget that abolishes the highly successful Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Agency (ITPC) and further cuts funding for already decimated tobacco prevention programs. This is the second time state legislators have sided with the tobacco industry this month, following their failure to enact a smoke-free workplace law that protects all Hoosiers. With these actions, legislators have ensured that Indiana continues to be known as the ashtray of the Midwest.
Indiana kids and taxpayers will pay a high price for their legislators' utter failure to fight tobacco use, the state’s number one cause of preventable death. More kids will start to smoke, more lives will be lost to tobacco, and Indiana taxpayers and businesses will pay more in tobacco-related health care costs, which total more than $2 billion a year in the state.
Only the tobacco industry will benefit from abolishing the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Agency. ITPC's programs have helped reduced smoking by 58 percent among middle school students and 42 percent among high school students and provided assistance to tens of thousands of Hoosiers trying to quit smoking. And it has continued to produce results even as its budget has been repeatedly slashed, from a high of $35 million to just $9.2 million in fiscal year 2011.
In addition to abolishing ITPC, the latest budget would further cut funding for tobacco prevention programs to just $8 million — barely 10 percent of the $78.8 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While these are tough budget times, it makes no sense to destroy a program that is saving lives and saving money. And Indiana has plenty of tobacco revenue to continue funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs as it collects $599 million a year from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes.
Tobacco kills 9,700 Hoosiers each year, and 9,900 Indiana kids become regular smokers each year. Indiana legislators have dealt a terrible blow to efforts to protect kids and reduce tobacco's devastating toll on the state.