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Indiana Takes Important Step To Improve Hoosier Health

Statement of William V. Corr Executive Director, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
April 30, 2007

Indiana legislators have taken an important step toward improving the health of Hoosiers by passing HB 1678 and the state budget late Sunday. HB 1678 will increase the state cigarette tax by 44 cents per pack, which is a proven strategy to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, and will improve access to vital health care services for many uninsured Hoosiers. Between HB 1678 and the state budget, annual funding for Indiana’s nationally recognized tobacco prevention program was also increased by $5.4 million. This funding partially restores devastating cuts made to tobacco prevention programs several years ago.

We applaud Governor Mitch Daniels for his bold vision and active leadership in proposing the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP), including a cigarette tax increase and full funding for the tobacco prevention programs run by the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Agency (ITPC). We also applaud State Rep. Charlie Brown and the other legislators who have championed Hoosier health and led the push to protect kids from tobacco this year.

Indiana can expect the 44-cent cigarette tax increase to prevent some 39,700 Indiana kids alive today from becoming smokers, save 18,900 Hoosiers from smoking-caused deaths and produce more than $917 million in long-term health care savings.

While a step forward, the total tobacco prevention funding approved by the Legislature, $16.2 million per year, is still less than half the minimum amount of $34.8 million a year recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

We urge Indiana leaders next year to build on this progress by further increasing the cigarette tax and fully restoring funding for tobacco prevention. It is disappointing that the tobacco industry once again wielded far too much influence and succeeded in limiting the size of the cigarette tax increase and dramatically cutting the amount of new revenue dedicated to tobacco prevention.

We also encourage legislators to continue this year’s progress toward making all Indiana workplaces, including restaurants and bars, smoke-free. A push for smoke-free legislation emerged from legislators at the very end of this legislative session. There has also been dramatic progress on this issue at the local level in Indiana in recent years. We look forward to working with legislators on a strong, statewide smoke-free law that protects everyone’s right to breathe clean, smoke-free air without undermining any of the important local progress that has been made.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in Indiana, claiming more than 9,800 lives each year and costing the state $2.1 billion annually in health care bills, including $487 million in Medicaid payments alone. Government expenditures related to tobacco amount to a hidden tax of $585 each year on every Indiana household. While Indiana leaders have taken an important first step, there is still much more that must be done to reduce tobacco’s toll on Hoosiers for generations to come.