IndianaLocalNews

Report grades Indiana on tobacco use rates, public policy

Indiana does not fare well in a new report on what state and federal officials are, or could be, doing to discourage tobacco use.
The American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control” report evaluates every state and the federal government on their tobacco-control laws and policies, including for e-cigarettes. It assigns letter grades, like a report card.
Tiffany Nichols, advocacy director for the Indiana chapter of the American Lung Association, said there is room for improvement in the Hoosier State.
“We have three ‘Fs’; and the ‘Fs’ are on tobacco prevention program funding, tobacco tax, and on regulating flavored tobacco products,” Nichols pointed out. “‘Cs’ on smoke-free air, as well as ‘C’ on accessing cessation services.”
Nichols noted the Indiana tobacco tax has not been raised since 2007, and her group is advocating for a $2 increase in hopes of deterring young people from buying tobacco products.
Another report, from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said every year, almost 15,000 Hoosiers under 18 try cigarettes for the first time, and almost 12,000 adults die from smoking.
The Tobacco-Free Kids’ report showed smoking-related illnesses take more lives in Indiana than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined. It estimates the annual health care costs in the state linked to tobacco use are nearly $4 billion.
Nichols hopes the right people are listening to the message.
“We will use the report to work with our Indiana legislators to enact these evidence-based tobacco prevention and cessation strategies,” Nichols outlined. “Such as increasing our cigarette tax, properly funding our tobacco prevention program, as well as highlighting the fact that we do have a ‘C’ in smoke-free air, but we could have an ‘A.'”
The American Lung Association also suggests enacting policies to eliminate smoking in all public places and workplaces, full implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which became law in 2009, and eliminating sales of flavored tobacco products.

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