Statement from Bryan Hannon, Chair of Tobacco Free Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS, IN -Tobacco use in Indiana is among the highest in the nation. That is why health and business groups have long called on lawmakers to increase Indiana’s cigarette tax by $2 per pack and increase the tax on all other tobacco products to an equivalent rate.
Increasing taxes on tobacco products is a proven way to reduce tobacco use, but instead of moving forward with tobacco tax policies that will protect kids and improve health, lawmakers are considering cutting taxes for some tobacco products, including products that are some of the most popular with Hoosier kids.
“Indiana can and must do better when it comes to reducing tobacco use. But, unfortunately, this proposal would favor the tobacco industry more than the health of Hoosiers," said Bryan Hannon, Indiana government relations director, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “It is important that tobacco taxes apply to all tobacco products at an equivalent rate to encourage people to quit rather than switch to a cheaper product as well as to prevent youth from starting to use any tobacco product.”
“The pertaining language added to SB 382 is especially troubling given the impact it would have on the products used most by Indiana’s youth. Studies clearly show that young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to transition to regular cigarettes. It’s reckless to be making it easier for them to get e-cigarettes by decreasing the cost,” said Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “Indiana’s health metrics are already among the worst in the country and tobacco use is a big reason why. We do not want to encourage more tobacco use in the state and more people beset by health problems as a result, and that’s exactly what these tax reductions and caps would do.”
“This proposal is profoundly concerning," said Dr. Sarah Bauer, pediatrician and tobacco cessation champion for the Indiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco products among adolescents. E-cigarette use and secondhand nicotine aerosol are associated with an increased risk of respiratory symptoms and asthma exacerbations. Furthermore, youth e-cigarette use is associated with an increased risk of current cigarette smoking and future smoking initiation as well as increased odds of marijuana and polysubstance use. This proposal would benefit the tobacco industry while doing a disservice to the current and future health of Hoosiers, particularly adolescents and young adults. Taxing all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, at an equivalent rate is good for public health, reduces youth initiation, provides state revenue, and brings all Hoosiers closer to a healthier future.”