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Higher cigarette tax would cut down on number of smokers

By now, it is common knowledge that Indiana is an unhealthy state, often among the worst in the nation for smoking and obesity. But, it’s becoming clearer that Indiana’s poor health rankings don’t exist in a vacuum.

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce released a new report this month that indicates Indiana lags its neighbors on key health metrics like smoking, obesity and health insurance costs. So, why do businesses care about health? One reason is because it affects the cost of doing business in Indiana.

Policymakers have started to notice. Recently, they raised the legal tobacco age to 21 to combat high smoking rates, but it is simply not enough. If state leaders are serious about addressing Indiana’s health challenges — and strengthening our economy — they need to raise the cigarette tax and invest more in health programs and services.

For about three in four (77.4%) African-American smokers, the usual cigarette is menthol, over three times the rate as among whites (23.0%). The menthol in cigarettes has been found to make it both easier to start smoking and harder to quit (source: www.lung.org).

The problem is real and growing worse, and health and business leaders agree on the solution. Let’s hope lawmakers will raise the cigarette tax the next session.

Please contact me at [email protected] or 812.288.6451, ext. 2135.

Pamela Clark, CASI, Minority Health Initiative Director

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