The Truth Initiative found 12 US states where smoking rates are higher than the national average and even some of the most tobacco-dependent and underdeveloped nations in the world. A lack of income, access to healthcare, smoke free laws, and other tobacco control policies are to blame for these overwhelmingly high numbers. Smokers in this region, called Tobacco Nation, smoke 500 more cigarettes per year than the rest of the nation, resulting in serious health consequences.
Unfortunately, Indiana has found itself in this region the Truth Initiative calls Tobacco Nation. Smokers in Tobacco Nation, smoke 500 more cigarettes per year than the rest of the nation, resulting in serious health consequences. Smokers in Tobacco Nation are more likely to live shorter lives and are more likely to die from a tobacco-related illness like lung cancer and heart disease. Out of this 12-state region, Indiana may have the 3rd lowest smoking rate, but that isn’t much of a consolation when Indiana has the 42nd lowest smoking rate in entire US.
What can be done to move Indiana out of Tobacco Nation? There are quite a few tried and true paths Indiana can take. Indiana can raise its dreadfully low cigarette tax, which we know is a proven way to help adults quit and prevent youth from ever starting. More Indiana communities could also implement stronger smoke free air policies. Currently, smoking is permitted in bars, taverns, casinos, and private clubs, which exposes any patron or employee of those places to secondhand smoke. Zionsville is the only community in Boone County that has a smoke free air ordinance stronger than the state where smoking is not allowed in any bars or taverns. There is any number of policies Indiana and Indiana communities could implement to move us out of Tobacco Nation. It’s time Indiana opened its eyes and start answering some hard questions if it wants to improve the health of Hoosiers.