Letter: Raise cigarette tax to make Indiana healthier

To the editor:

For over 70 years, the Little Red Door Cancer Agency has been the go-to place for many low income residents of central Indiana after they receive a cancer diagnosis. More often than not, the financial burdens of a cancer diagnosis takes a huge toll on families, and many are left to choose between basic living expenses and life-saving treatment.

As we help our clients deal with the physical, emotional, and financial burden of cancer, we also strive to make the best use of our limited resources. What if just $1 could make a huge impact? It can. Something as simple as raising the cigarette tax by $1 per pack could help save over 40,000 Hoosier lives per year. Thousands of people would never have to choose between paying for rent or food and their life-saving cancer treatment.

Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of cancer. Every year 5,700 Hoosier youth become daily smokers because cigarettes are so affordable and cheap compared to most of the states around us, which have much higher taxes. These children then carry this addiction into adulthood, and many will die prematurely because of it.

Indiana lawmakers have a unique opportunity to raise the price of cigarettes by at least $1 per pack, which research shows will lead to a 12 percent decrease in youth smoking.

I urge the Indiana General Assembly to take that step for the sake of youth all across Indiana. Raising the cigarette tax by at least $1 will help protect today’s youth from premature deaths and the financial struggles of having to choose between life-saving cancer treatment and basic living expenses. Let’s leave a healthier Indiana for future generations and seize the opportunity we have in 2016 to help Indiana kick its tobacco addiction.

Fred Duncan

director and CEO,

Little Red Door Cancer Agency