Coalition wants $2 tax hike on cigarettes sold in Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A new push is underway to up the price of cigarettes. The Raise It For Health Coalition announced Thursday at the Indiana Statehouse that it wants the price for a pack of cigarettes to go up by $2.

The coalition is made up of business and healthcare leaders. Its goal is to see smoking rates drop, save lives, strengthen the state's workforce, and raise revenue for public health programs.

"When families smoke, it has a significant impact on a child’s health and well-being," said Emily Scott, the vice president at the Indiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The coalition wants state lawmakers to adopt the legislation at the upcoming Indiana General Assembly.

"If you can raise the cigarette tax, we can reinvest that money," said Scott. "Indiana is actually 49th in the nation in public-health spending. So, any money we raise from increasing the cigarette tax would hopefully be turned into public health prevention programs to make Indiana healthier overall."

Scott said increasing the price will lead to less people smoking. Not all smokers said they'd quit if it went up just $2.

"I’m a very routine driven person," said Taylore Floreancig, who smokes a pack a day. "I do the same things every single day, at the same time, and if I were to quit, that would just throw off everything."

Floreancig said the price would have to go up to over $10 or $15 before she started to change her routine.

Former smoker Michelle Roggasch said a $2 increase would make a difference if she still smoked, who said the habit was something she and her budgeted in with their finances.

"It was a financial obligation we budgeted for," Roggasch said. "It is kind of ridiculous to think about in hindsight. I do remember when I was smoking, we always said, if it ever goes over $8 a pack, we would quit. So, I think it does play into it."

Floreancig and Roggasch were both at Tobacco-Free Hendricks County event for the Great American Smokeout, a day designed to get smokers to start quitting, even if for a day.

Roggasch shared her journey to finally stop smoking after more than 20 years.

"Definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made," said Roggasch, "especially with having a 6-year-old at home."

Tobacco-Free Hendricks County encouraged smokers to give it up for the day.

Floreancig said she's never tried to quit before but took the organization up on the offer.

The event was held at Brickers Pub, which back in March, decided to go smoke and vape free. The owner said smoking-related complaints were the top issue among customers and he had started to see sales due to it.

"I don’t smoke personally, just like a lot of things here at the bar I don’t drink or eat, but it’s not about me, it’s about the consumer," said owner Jim Honan. "So, why not. We think it’s going to eventually happen, so we decided to take the first step."