Comprehensive tobacco control efforts play a powerful role in reducing smoking as well as the health impacts and economic toll of high smoking rates. But Indiana woefully underfunds these initiatives, falling far below federal recommendations and dollars spent in other states, says a new report released by the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation.

Indiana devoted just $8.2 million in federal and state spending in 2016 to preventing Hoosiers from starting to smoke, helping them quit and protecting people from secondhand smoke. This is only 11% of the $73.5 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – and far behind other states’ funding levels, according to the study by researchers at the Health Policy Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Indiana’s per-person tobacco control funding – at $1.23 – is less than half of the national average of $2.92.

Meanwhile, Indiana’s smoking rate remains the 10th highest nationwide, with more than one in five Hoosiers smoking, at a devastating toll to the state. More than 11,000 Hoosiers die prematurely from smoking each year, and smoking costs Indiana $7.6 billion annually due to health care expenses, lower productivity and premature deaths.

“Tobacco has an overwhelming impact on Indiana – both in lives lost and dollars wasted,” said Claire Fiddian-Green, president and CEO of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation. “By increasing funding levels to CDC recommendations, we could make significant strides in addressing our smoking crisis. With our current inadequate levels of tobacco control funding, we’re missing a key opportunity to help improve our state’s poor health outcomes.”

Indiana used to be a national leader in funding efforts to address smoking. In 2001, the state allocated $35 million of its own resources and $1.4 million in federal dollars to tobacco control – an amount that was in line with CDC recommendations. Those numbers have steadily declined to today’s below-average figures.

To meet CDC recommendations, Indiana should be spending nine times the current level, or $65.3 million more per year. This would result in myriad positive outcomes, including:

  • an 11% reduction in adult smoking, decreasing the number of adult smokers by nearly 120,000;
  • a decrease in health care costs of more than $373 million;
  • a decrease in productivity losses of more than $311 million; and
  • nearly 1,200 fewer pregnant women who smoke – a key step toward reducing Indiana’s higher-than-average infant mortality rates.

“By increasing funding for tobacco control efforts, Indiana would save lives and position itself for a brighter, more prosperous future,” said Kevin Brinegar, president and CEO of the Indiana Chamber. “This is critical if our state is to remain competitive with peers – for talent, jobs and citizens’ well-being – in the 21st century.”

Reducing smoking continues to be a primary focus of the Chamber and the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana.

Resource: Mike Ripley at (317) 264-6883 or email: [email protected]