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Cost Of Smoking Could Climb If Tobacco Tax Approved
Updated December 12, 2016 11:02 AM
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - The cost of smoking could get higher for Hoosiers if a proposed tobacco tax is approved.

Civic, public, health, and business leaders met at the statehouse Thursday to launch Raise It for Health, an effort to raise the tax on cigarettes about $1.50 and restore funding for smoking prevention and cessation programs.

During a news conference at the Statehouse, the group unveiled the findings of a new statewide Bellwether Research and Consulting poll which showed 69 percent of Hoosiers favoring a cigarette tax increase.

The proposal would raise Indiana's tax from 99.5 cents to $2.495 per pack, which would more align with neighboring states in the Midwest and across the country.

The Indiana Chamber is pushing lawmakers to go further, not only to increase state revenue but to help businesses fight rising healthcare costs associated with Indiana's high percentage of smokers compared to the national average.

The business group wants state lawmakers to increase the smoking age from 18 to 21 and repeal workplace privileges for smokers.

Indiana companies would be able to charge higher deductibles and co-pays for employees who smoke.

State lawmakers would need to approve any of the proposed changes.

Their push is not only related to wellness, but economics too, especially given the several hundred million dollars that could be generated from an increased cigarette tax. The money could provide increased revenue to focus on tobacco prevention.

Last session, as part of the House GOP transportation plan, money from an increased cigarette tax would have been used to help fund road improvements, a proposal that could resurface with another focus on transportation in the 2017 session. The move passed in the House but failed in the Senate.

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