An amendment to a bill recently introduced in the Indiana House of Representatives would have increased the state cigarette tax by $2 per pack but was rejected by the state House Ways and Means Committee.
The proposed amendment was added to House Bill 1007, a bill that requires the state department of health to study and prepare a plan to improve residents’ health and behavioral health.
Raising the cigarette tax would have curbed cigarette smoking by an estimated 21 percent and would have raised approximately $500 million in revenue annually. Revenue would have been used for mental health services, treating opioid addiction, reducing diabetes and obesity, and other health initiatives.
“Indiana’s health problems have only been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic making a $2 cigarette tax increase more timely than ever,” said state Rep. Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis), who introduced the proposal. “This is a common-sense solution to a public health problem that has plagued our state for decades. We must do all we can to discourage Hoosiers from picking up this harmful habit and focus on bettering our state’s health.”
Annually, more than 11,000 Indianans die from cigarette smoking, and more than 1,400 others die from secondhand exposure.