Today, the most commonly used tobacco product among teens are e-cigarettes. When adolescents use vaping products, they are both more likely to use cigarettes, and more likely to increase their use of cigarettes and vaping products over time. Teens who would otherwise be deterred from tobacco cigarettes may be attracted to e-cigarettes because of their unique qualities such as flavorings, design, and perceived social acceptance. The top reasons why teens use e-cigarettes are the use of the product by a friend of family member, availability of flavors, and the belief that vaping is less harmful than other forms of tobacco.
Smoking and substance use are just two of the health issues impacting young Hoosiers – overall, we rank 34th in kids health. We can, and must, dobetter. We will not change these trends without investing in our kids and our communities. Distressingly, we are 49th out of the 50 states in per-capita spending on public health issues like smoking, drug addiction and obesity.
The Indiana Youth Institute is part of a broad coalition of health, business and youth leaders that are coming together around a plan that calls for improving health outcomes by raising the state cigarette tax as part of next year’s biennial budget. A $2 increase in the state cigarette tax — which is currently under $1 and even lower than Kentucky — would significantly lower the appeal of cigarettes to young, pricesensitive people. It also would generate $360 million in the first year alone that could go toward funding opioid treatment and prevention, educating and protecting youth from e-cigarettes and smoking, addressing our state’s infant mortality concerns and strengthening the Healthy Indiana Plan.
Kids and families benefit from these initiatives. We have the potential to move from bottom 10states in public health spending to the top 10. By raising cigarette user fees in next year’s budget, we can make meaningful and transformative investments to improve our kids’ health.