Summer 2017 SAVI Online Magazine Emagazine Summer 2017 mn and ae edits - web - Page 11

And, crucially, policy makers’ most powerful tool to reduce smoking is blunted in Indiana, relative to other states. Studies consistently demonstrate that “cigarettes are no different than any other consumer product,” in that they’re price sensitive: “As the price of cigarettes goes up, the sale of cigarettes goess down.” Indiana’s tax per pack is $0.995, which is lower than all but 13 states. The average tax in all states is $1.69 per pack. “A broad coalition of business, health care, not-for- profit and academic groups have joined forces to advocate for legislation to raise the tax by $1.50,” the report notes. The move would have both human and economic benefits, “saving countless Hoosier lives and avoiding millions in healthcare and lost productivity costs.” Stricter smoke-free air laws would also make a difference, along with raising the legal age for purchasing tobacco. State lawmakers could also address the problem “I DON’T THINK, EVEN 10 TO 15 YEARS AGO, PEOPLE REALIZED THE EXTENT OF THE HARM DONE BY SMOKING.” — VIRGINIA CAINE Director, Marion County Health Department by reducing the number of tobacco retailers and imposing tighter restriction on point- of-sale marketing—actions that cities and towns can’t take on their own, by state law. The key is to stay focused, and to keep working on a problem that poses serious health challenges and imposes steep costs on the whole state—but affects different communities in very different ways. “We have to continue to be vigilant,” Caine says. “We have to have discussions, and we have to push our policy makers to understand that we still have a crisis of public health related to tobacco use.” 11