INDIANAPOLIS -- Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in Indiana. That's why it will be the focus in 2017 for a new group that is working toward improving the health status of Hoosiers.
The Alliance for a Healthier Indiana, a new coalition announced Thursday, is made up of health care professionals, advocates, community and business leaders from across the state.
Tobacco costs Indiana $6 billion annually, taking into account health care costs and lost productivity due to smoking-related diseases and smoking on the job. Additionally, secondhand smoke costs Indiana $2.1 billion dollars in excess medical expenses and premature loss of life.
“Tobacco use is a pressing challenge in Indiana, where nearly 23 percent of the population smokes and 4,100 young Hoosiers across the state start smoking each year,” said Bryan Mills, CEO of Community Health Network.
The Alliance has a four-part plan to combat tobacco use in Indiana:
Raise the price of the cigarette tax in Indiana from 99.5 cents per pack to at least $1.50
Increase funding for smoking cessation and prevention
Raise the minimum age for sale of tobacco products fro 18 to 21
Repeal the 'Smokers Bill of Rights'
A further announcement will be made on Dec. 8 by Tobacco Free Indiana with details on a campaign to raise the state tobacco tax and increase funding levels for cessation and prevention in the coming session of the Indiana General Assembly.
Indiana is ranked 41st in the nation for the overall health of its citizens. It is below average in 25 of 34 measures and ranks among the worst in the nation in the following categories according to America’s Health Rankings’ report:
35th Worst in Drug Deaths
36th Worst in Infant Mortality
44th Worst in Percentage of Smokers
44th Worst in Obesity
48th Worst in Public Health Funding
In addition to tobacco use, the Alliance plans to work in the future on pressing Hoosier health issues including opioid abuse, obesity, and infant mortality.