Anyone who drives a truck or car along Indiana’s highways and county roads knows that many of those byways desperately need repair and replacement.

Thankfully, the state’s incoming governor, Eric Holcomb, seems to accept that reality, too. Holcomb has called for a long-term infrastructure plan fueled by “sustainable” funding. That is a gentle synonym for steady tax revenue. Its need is a harsh reality. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave a “poor” rating to one in six major Indiana roads in 2013. Ten percent of bridges were structurally deficient, the engineers concluded.

Last February, the Interstate 70 overpass of U.S. 41 crumbled so extensively that the highway below was visible through a hole in the I-70 bridge deck. Only clumps of concrete clinging to bent rebar prevented a massive opening. Other road and bridge failures around Indiana have been documented, as well.

The cost of restoring the “Crossroads of America” to a safe, smooth status will not be cheap. Infrastructure experts estimate the state must invest $1 billion annually to maintain adequate roads and bridges.

Ironically, an impediment to a comprehensive plan to revitalize Indiana’s roads has been pressure from lobbyists, a force vice president-elect Mike Pence (also the state’s current governor, officially) and president-elect Donald Trump claim to want to neutralize in Washington. Such pressure threatens to derail a proper infrastructure program again in the upcoming session of the General Assembly. Holcomb, state legislators and the Republican machine controlling the Statehouse should nonetheless stand firm and act reasonably.

Key state lawmakers have indicated they support a cigarette tax increase of $1 to $1.50 per pack, which would generate more than $300 million annually for the Indiana budget, freeing up other funds for infrastructure construction. Such a hike would more than double the state cigarette excise tax, but the current rate (which remains at 99.5 cents per pack) is lower than all but 13 other states.

The influential Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Operators successfully fought past cigarette tax increases, including during last winter’s legislative session, when Pence promised to block a higher tax on smokes. Talk of another attempt at an increase has the group calling the idea “unacceptable” to smokers and the retailers who get half of their profits from cigarettes. The association warns of Hoosiers driving to other states to buy cheaper cigarettes and black market sales booming.

The group also doubts that a reduction in smoking, triggered by a cigarette tax increase, would allow Indiana to experience significant savings in payouts for Medicaid. (Smoking-related illnesses cost Indiana $600 million a year in Medicaid.)

Legislators should also equally consider other reasoning.

A smoker who quits a $1,000-a-year habit will then have that same amount of disposable income to spend on other products sold in a store, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids insists. That nonprofit organization also points to several studies that show cigarette tax increases have not harmed convenience store retailers.

Those arguments aside, two factors remain irrefutable. First, Indiana, and its economy, suffer from poor health, worsened by smoking. The latest United Health Foundation rankings put Hoosiers’ health at 41st out of 50 states. The state’s smoking rate was among the seven worst. Second, Indiana’s roads need long-overdue mending and rebuilding, an initiative that would deliver a positive jolt to the state’s economy. Legislators should not forget those priorities.

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