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Group Pushes to Raise Tobacco Age To 21 In Indiana

Several of Indiana’s top health care organizations are joining forces to combat what they call the state’s “embarrassing” and “shameful” health record.

Indiana currently ranks 9th worst in the country for overall health issues.

To address that, the Indiana State Medical Association, the Hospital Association, Anthem Indiana, Community Health Network and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce formed the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana.

Chamber CEO Kevin Brinegar says it can be more influential than any one organization.

“It’s much harder to ignore all these organizations including the insurers," says Brinegar. "I mean, these groups don’t agree on every health care-related policy that gets proposed.”

The Alliance’s 2017 legislative priorities include increasing the cigarette tax and raising the legal age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21.

State Medical Association Vice President Julie Reed says the problem is enormous.

“Tobacco costs Indiana six billion dollars annually when you take into account health care costs and lost productivity,” says Reed.

The legislative session begins in January.

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