Businesses, smokers weigh in on proposed cigarette tax

NOW: Businesses, smokers weigh in on proposed cigarette tax

SOUTH BEND, In. – A health coalition wants to raise the cigarette tax from $1 to $3. The Raise It For Health Coalition is pushing lawmakers to adopt legislation to increase the tax which they said will result in reduced smoking rates and improved health in Indiana.

With one in five adults in Indiana lighting up, the state has one of the highest smoking rates in the nation and one of the lowest tax rates on cigarettes at 99.5 cents per pack.  

Michiana smoke shops and gas stations are expecting a hike in cigarette taxes to lower their sales. Smokers are echoing the businesses expectations; many said they will likely cut back on their cigarette buying if this passes.

Brian Kilmer is one of them. He’s been smoking for the last 25 years and said raising the taxes on cigarettes in Indiana may push him to finally quit.

“I wouldn’t be able to smoke as much,” Kilmer said. “I definitely have to quit and I would save a lot of money and my health will get better.”

Kilmer’s reaction to the tax hike is exactly what the Raise It For Health Coalition wants to accomplish. They are pushing to triple Indiana’s cigarette tax ti reduce the amount of Hoosier smokers – currently 1 million of them – and in turn, improve their health.

“A lot of people can’t afford a pack of cigarettes, you know, let alone pay more,” Kilmer said.

For many stores in Michiana, a tax hike would reduce their cigarette sales… but not this one.

“I think it will be good for the vape industry just pushing more smokers into the vaping market,” Jose Alejandre, the General Manager at Vape N Smoke said.

At Vape N Smoke on Ironwood Drive, they think the potential tax hike could bring in more customers.

Smoke “There’s going to be a lot of people who are upset about this,” Alejandre said. “I think for us, that would be a great thing but for tobacco smokers obviously that wouldn’t be a great thing.”

While vaping isn’t the perfect alternative to improve your health, Alejandre says it’s an effective way to quit smoking.

“Raising the tax, in the long run, if those people do choose to quit because of a reason like that it will be more beneficial for them to do it that way.”

The group pushing for the two-dollar per pack increase said not only will this reduce tobacco use in Indiana, it will also raise $300 million annually to invest in workforce development.

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

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