New Start for Stop Smoking Programs?

It remains to be seen if Indiana can "re-start" its "stop" smoking campaign.

That's the goal of a proposal now pending before state legislators.

The proposal calls for an increase in the cigarette tax that has ranged from 25-cents to a dollar per pack.

When Indiana first got it's hands on money from a tobacco lawsuit settlement, it poured 32-million dollars a year into stop smoking efforts.

Today, the program is a fraction of its former self, with slightly more than $10 million budgeted.

Much of the settlement money has been lost to everyday budget balancing. “We were cut from $32-million down to $10 million,” said Karla Sneegas of Indiana’s Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Agency, “which was roughly a 70-percent cut.”

Now the state is being asked to breath new life into the campaign by finding a new source of funding—an increase in the cigarette tax.

“We would like to see more things done,” said Sneegas. “For example we know that pharmaceuticals have a great impact on people's ability to quit smoking, we'd like to provide more support for that.”

Some contend that the health of Indiana as a whole is at stake, given that the state has the second highest smoking rate in the country.

So far, the tax increase proposal has faced just one test this legislative session…and it’s a test the measure failed.

A proposed increase of 25-cents a pack was voted down in the House, but the matter could be revived in conference committee.

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