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Health Groups To Focus On Challenges Facing Indiana

ash tray smoking

A group of Hoosier organizations have united to focus on a handful of health initiatives facing the state.

The Alliance for a Healthier Indiana is made up of health and business leaders who are worried about Indiana’s poor health outcomes and rankings.

On a recent WFYI No Limits show, President of Indiana Hospital Association Doug Leonard says the state has serious health problems like smoking, obesity and opioid abuse.

"Some of these issues, it might take a generation of initiatives and actions to change, but if we don’t draw the line in the sand someplace then we’ll never make a difference," Leonard says.

The group says reducing smoking became their first priority because it is linked to many other health problems. Indiana has one of the lowest cigarette tax rates, just short of a dollar, and the alliance proposes hiking it to a dollar fifty. Executive VP Indiana State Medical Association Julie Reed says this is a proven way to help people quit, but that there is more to think about.

"As you raise that tax and as you drive people to stop smoking you need to make sure you have solutions in place to help them with their addiction challenges," Reed says.

Right now Indiana only spends eight percent of the CDC recommended amount on smoking cessation and only 36 Hoosier counties have programs to help people quit. The alliance will also work with lawmakers on proposals to raise the smoking age to 21.

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