Indiana Smoking Rate Drops to Historic Low
But prevention cuts put progress at risk
Posted by: Editor | Aug 10, 2011
Over the past decade, Indiana has reduced the smoking rate among adults by nearly a quarter, reaching an historic low for the state of 21.2 percent in 2010.
Indiana was in the forefront of tobacco control efforts following the 1998 settlement of state lawsuits against the tobacco industry. It established an independent agency—Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation—and initially provided robust funding for programs to prevent kids from starting to smoke and help smokers quit.
But political will has waned, and funding has dropped steadily, threatening continued progress.
This year, lawmakers eliminated the independent agency and folded it into the state health department. Funding for tobacco prevention has been cut from a high of $35 million a year to just $8 million, a small fraction of the $78.8 million that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that Indiana spend.
How does that $8 million stack up? Here’s how:
- Indiana collects nearly $600 million a year from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes.
- Tobacco companies spend $307.5 million a year marketing their products to Hoosiers, much of it aimed at kids.
- Tobacco-related health care cost the state $2.1 billion.
Indiana cannot risk backsliding because its smoking rate is still above the national rate (currently 20.6 percent). To keep making progress, Indiana must do three things:
- Raise the state tobacco tax;
- Increase funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs; and
- Pass a strong statewide smoke-free law—it is one of a dwindling number of states without such a law.
Tobacco prevention is reducing smoking and saving lives in Indiana. Now it's up to Indiana leaders to save tobacco prevention.