The Indiana Chamber of Commerce is renewing its effort to significantly decrease the smoking rate of Hoosiers as part of its legislative priorities for 2019. The chamber says a per-pack tax increase could also boost revenue during a tight budget-writing session.
It is also supporting raising the smoking age to 21.
With a tight state budget allocating funds to meet increasing Department of Child Services and K-12 education demands, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce hopes that such a tight squeeze may make a cigarette tax increase more appealing to legislative leaders and the Governor.
“We will certainly be making the case for it. There is nothing else the state could do to infuse the revenue stream that would have the impact of increasing the cigarette tax by $2 per pack,” said Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar.
Brinegar said that he agrees that tobacco tax money should go to cessation programs but wants to push for any additional funding to go to where the state needs it most simultaneously cutting down the smoking rate.
“Smoking is costing employers and the state more than $6 billion annually in lost productivity and health care. Research has shown that significantly increasing what a pack of cigarettes costs and upping the legal age to smoke do yield positive results,” he said.
Indiana Chamber has a list of other urgent action items including increased broadband access to rural communities, moving up the effective date for making the state superintendent an appointed position and significant planning for and investing in Indiana’s water infrastructure.
A full list of the Indiana Chamber’s key initiatives is available here.