(INDIANAPOLIS) – Cigarette taxes in Indiana have held steady for 11 years. A health and business coalition will be lobbying again to raise them.
The “Raise It for Health” Coalition has pushed legislators the last two years to double the cigarette tax. This year, it’s asking to triple it to about three bucks a pack.
Community Health CEO Bryan Mills says other states have raised their taxes since the coalition first formed two years ago. And he says the bigger the increase, the more people will quit smoking. Mills and Chamber president Kevin Brinegar say that’s the real goal, not the money the tax would raise — Brinegar acknowledges that figure will decline if the expected drop in smoking rates materializes. But he says the state would save millions in health-care costs, and businesses millions more in lost productivity.
The coalition hosted a series of 20 local discussions around the state this year to generate momentum for the tax hike and share information about its expected impact.
This is the third straight year the coalition of 69 groups has called for a cigarette tax hike. It passed the House once, but has never gotten a hearing in the Senate. The proposal to triple the tax to about three bucks a pack would move Indiana from the 15th-lowest tax to the ninth-highest. Supporters argue it’s the most obvious way to make Hoosiers healthier by getting fewer people to smoke.
The tax hike is the coalition’s top priority, but the group will also try again to raise the legal smoking age to 21.