Letter to the Editor:
The Indiana State Senate stripped a cigarette tax increase from the state budget proposal, which the House of Representatives included in their plan.
It is disheartening that the cigarette tax increase was stripped from the budget by the Senate, despite the fact that 70 percent of Hoosier voters support the proposal. With our state in the midst of an addiction crisis, raising the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack would give our state another tool to fight addiction from the ground up.
Approximately 4,100 Hoosier kids become new daily smokers every single year, and we know that youth cigarette use is a predictor for additional drug use. Research also indicates that smoking can make recovery from drug addiction more difficult, which is a concern because 95 percent of opioid addicts are also addicted smokers. That is why a broad coalition of health and business groups came together this year to support a $1.50-per-pack cigarette tax increase.
The decision to remove the proposed cigarette tax increase from the budget puts tens of thousands of kids at risk of future tobacco addiction and does nothing to ease the state’s health and addiction crisis. Hoosiers’ health should be a first priority, not a bargaining chip in budget negotiations. I urge the General Assembly to pass a $1.50 cigarette tax increase this year.