Cigarette tax proposal targets smoking while raising revenue

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Health advocates and some lawmakers hope raising Indiana's cigarette tax by $1.50 will create a strong smoking disincentive.

Public health officials say the increase is a proactive approach to reducing one of the country's worst smoking rates. It also comes as Republican statehouse leaders are pushing an infrastructure funding proposal that would take money from the general fund.

Republican Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer says she doesn't want her measure thought of as a tax bill, but GOP leaders have acknowledged that additional revenue could supplement diverted dollars.

The measure would raise the smoking age to 21, send more dollars toward tobacco cessation and prevention programs and repeal the state's "Smoker's Bill of Rights." A health panel voted 11-0 Wednesday to send it to the House Ways and Means Committee.

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