1. Raise the cigarette excise tax by at least a $1.00 per pack;
2. Pass a comprehensive smoke free air law that covers bars, taverns and casinos; and
3. Increase funding for Indiana's tobacco prevention and cessation program.
The American Lung Association in Indiana fought for effective tobacco control policies during the 2016 legislative session. The Lung Association also partnered with Tobacco Free Indiana, which aimed to increase the cigarette tax by $1.00 per pack. The momentum grew this year as legislation passed out of the House of Representatives with language to increase the cigarette tax by a $1.00 and increase funding to tobacco prevention and cessation programs by $2 million. Unfortunately, both efforts were unsuccessful due to the lack of support from the Senate. However, our efforts to increase the cigarette tax gained increased momentum and media attention statewide.
On a more positive note, momentum on local smokefree efforts in Indiana has been building. Indiana saw success when South Bend, Indiana passed one of the strongest comprehensive ordinances in Indiana which will protect over 100,000 residents and workers starting January 2, 2017. Franklin, another local municipality, strengthened its smokefree ordinance to include electronic cigarettes. The Lung Association in Indiana was instrumental in helping bring about this policy change.
Tobacco Free Indiana conducted a poll for the 2016 session which found that 73 percent of participants were concerned about smoking and other tobacco use among Hoosiers, particularly young people. The poll conducted by Bellwether Research and Consulting found that 77 percent of all voters would favor a $1.00 per pack increase in the cigarette tax as part of an effort to reduce tobacco use, especially among youth with money funding infrastructure projects. The poll also showed bi-partisan support for increasing the cigarette tax with 81 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of Republicans and 74 percent of independents in support. This poll showed overwhelming public support to significantly increase the cigarette tax in Indiana.
The American Lung Association in Indiana looks forward to an active 2017 legislative session as we continue to partner with the statewide tobacco control coalition, Tobacco Free Indiana, in advocating for a $1.50 increase in Indiana's cigarette tax and additional funding for Indiana's tobacco control program. Indiana's current tobacco tax of 99.5 cents per pack ranks 36th in the United States, Indiana would have the 13th highest cigarette tax in the country with an increase of $1.50 per pack. The American Lung Association in Indiana will also look for additional opportunities to strengthen Indiana's smokefree laws at the local level in 2017.