The American Lung Association released its Tobacco Control Report for this year Wednesday morning.
In it, they say the state of Indiana is failing when it comes to preventing tobacco use, which includes e-cigarettes.
It gives grades and assessments on how the state is reducing and stopping tobacco use and makes recommendations.
The ALA gave Indiana an “F” in several categories, including funding for state tobacco prevention programs and ending the sale of flavored tobacco products.
Many believe flavored products attract younger smokers.
“11,000 Hoosiers every year are lost to tobacco-related deaths. That’s too many, especially when we’re seeing tobacco rates with youth increase,” said American Lung Association of Indiana Advocacy Director Nick Torres.
“If we continue to neglect this attention on tobacco prevention, we’ll continue to see young people with tobacco addictions well into their lifetimes.”
The highest grade the Hoosier state got was a “C” for an overview of state smoking restrictions in certain places like worksites, bars and restaurants and casinos.
Indiana ranked 48th in the nation when it comes to investing in public health, 46th in the country for lung cancer incidents and in the bottom 10 for high smoking rates.
The organization says this year more than any other, we have had more attention on public respiratory health because of COVID-19.
“We know tobacco use is bad for the immune system. We know people who use tobacco are at higher risk for severe cases of COVID-19. So, the context of all this really means this is the best year Indiana can make some major steps forward when it comes to tobacco control,” said Torres.
The organization says part of the problem is that Indiana refuses to raise its cigarette taxes. They say the tax hasn’t been raised in 14 years and is the lowest in the region.
“So, by having cheap tobacco products, that’s really undercutting all of our other poor grades when it comes to tobacco control,” Torres said.
The ALA is now calling on state lawmakers to take action, and suggests raising it by $2 per pack.
The increase is once again being discussed during the legislative session. Leadership argues the $400 million in potential tobacco tax revenue should not just go to the general fund but rather back into state health programs.
The report also touches on the impacts of flavored tobacco on the youth vaping epidemic, communities of color, LGBTQ Americans, pregnant women, and persons with lower incomes.