To the editor:
Indiana has developed a reputation as a great state to do business. By improving the health of Hoosiers, the state could achieve even greater economic prosperity.
One way to start is to reduce the number of people who smoke. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in Indiana and creates $6 billion in direct health care and lost productivity costs each year.
Tobacco Free Indiana and the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana, two coalitions representing more than 100 partners from business, health and community organizations, are working on a campaign to reduce smoking.
The Raise It for Health Campaign will urge the 2017 Indiana General Assembly to raise the state’s cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack and use $35 million of the $300 million raised annually for statewide tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
Research shows that raising the price of cigarettes is the single most effective way to reduce smoking –- especially among young people -– when the increase is significant enough to counteract discounts and promotions by tobacco companies.
For example, with a $1.50 per pack increase, it is estimated that youth smoking would decrease by 17.5 percent and there would be nearly 13,500 fewer smoking-affected pregnancies and births in the next five years.
Tobacco use impacts us individually and collectively, it affects the quality of life in our homes and our state and it is a factor for economic development. Raising the tax will save lives, reduce health care costs and make Indiana a more attractive place for businesses.
President and chief executive officer, Community Health Network
Director, tobacco control & advocacy, American Lung Association