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Anti-smoking Groups Steamed At Loss Of State Funding

Indiana lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban smoking in most public places.

Anti-smoking advocates are not pleased with budget cuts for the state‘s stop-smoking efforts.

The new budget allocates $5 million a year for the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation office, down from $8 million in the current budget.

It could also have been even less. Both Governor Pence and Senate Republicans proposed cutting the program in half.

Lindsay Grace, manager of advocacy at the American Lung Association-Indiana, credits the program with bringing smoking rates to record lows, though the percentage of smokers in Indiana remains among the nation‘s highest.

She says she is concerned the funding cuts will force program reductions and bring those improvements to a halt, adding that her group and others are not in a position to spend more to cover the loss.

“We have been a partner for Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation and we will continue to do so and help where we can, sort of fill in those gaps,” Grace says. “But we are a small non-profit that has budget needs as well.”

Grace contends the state would recover many times of the cost of beefed-up stop-smoking efforts through reduced health-care costs.

The Indiana State Department of Health, which oversees the stop-smoking office, declined comment beyond a written statement declaring tobacco prevention remains a top priority, and that programs such as the toll-free Tobacco Quitline will continue.

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