On Tuesday, the Indiana Chamber took part in the “Raise It for Health” rally at the Statehouse to push for a $1.50 increase in the state cigarette tax. Indiana is among the very worst states for percentage of smokers – we are the 9th highest nationally.

At the event, Chamber CEO Kevin Brinegar joined other Alliance for a Healthier Indiana members – as well as pollster Christine Matthews, who provided information about how Hoosiers feel about the issue, and bill author Rep. Charlie Brown (D-Gary) – in speaking at the podium.

Brinegar said, “Indiana takes pride in having a strong business climate. However, the health of Hoosiers is holding the state back from achieving even more. Indiana ranks 38th in the nation in overall health, and this is largely due to the state’s high smoking rate. Our current tax of 99.5 cents per pack is lower than all but one of our surrounding states. Increasing the tax is the single most effective method for decreasing overall smoking rates.”

He added, “We should rarely accept average for anything, but if Indiana rose to be just average when it comes to smoking, that would significantly curb health issues and save those individuals and businesses a lot of money on insurance coverage and health care costs.”

Representative C. Brown is carrying the bill (HB 1380) with the proposed cigarette tax hike and increase of the legal smoking age from 18 to 21. Both policies are top priorities for the Chamber, along with SB 23, authored by Sen. Liz Brown (R-Fort Wayne), to eliminate special privileges for smokers in the hiring process.

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