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Health Report Says Indiana Needs Higher Tobacco Tax

Indiana offers complete Medicaid coverage for tobacco cessation treatments , but the state still has the seventh highest smoking rate in the country.

Photo: MilitaryHealth (Flickr)

Indiana cigarettes are taxed one dollar per pack, more than 50 cents below the national average.

The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network releases a report every year evaluating each state legislature and what it’s done to help prevent cancer. That includes providing access to affordable healthcare, improving patients’ quality of life and, notably, reducing tobacco use.

Brianna Herndon is the Cancer Action Network’s Indiana Governmental Relations Director. She said while Indiana made great strides in recent years in passing a statewide smoking ban, it left out casinos, bars, off-track betting sites, and private clubs.

“We need to send the message that everybody’s health is valuable no matter where you work, and that nobody should have to choose between their paycheck and their health,” Herndon said.

Indiana spends a sixth of the Centers for Disease Control’s recommended funding level for tobacco cessation programs. And the state hasn’t raised its tobacco tax in six years.

Herndon said the Cancer Society will ask for a one dollar per pack increase in the next budget.

“We can see not only some health benefits from preventing kids to start, encouraging smokers to quit, but we should generate enough revenue to really fund all public health programs,” Herndon said.

Herndon notes that the tobacco tax funds the Healthy Indiana Plan program, which had to cut off enrollment earlier this year due to funding limits.

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