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The adult smoking rate in Indiana dropped to 21.2 percent last year, a major reduction from the 27 percent rate logged five years ago. Karla Sneegas, assistant commissioner of the State Health Department’s Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commission, discussed the progress, as well as her agency’s efforts to help employers help their workers quit smoking.

IBJ: Rates of adults smoking has dropped considerably, especially the last two years. What has made the difference?
A: It’s the combination of everything that we’re doing. Over the last 10 years, the [state] cigarette tax has been increased twice, and the federal cigarette tax was raised in 2009. And we can see that consumption went down in the months following the increases. We’ve got about 34 percent of the [Indiana] population that is covered by some type of smoke-free air law that we consider effective—that covers all workplaces and restaurants and for some of them, even covers bars. People will often cite to us that a smoke-free policy at their workplace is one of the top four or five reasons they quit.

IBJ: In the past two years, you’ve built up a network of 400 employers that your agency is helping to run smoking cessation programs. But don’t most employers already offer a smoking cessation program to their workers?
A: There are still a lot of employers that aren’t offering a benefit. Even if they are offering certain benefits through their health plans, this [network] gives them the ability to tap in to certain resources and promotions. We’re doing the Quit Now Indiana contest. This is our fourth year for doing it. We give employers a promotional quit kit. It allows the employer to run their own in-house contest.

IBJ: What’s your pitch to get employers to focus on smoking cesstion?
A: One of the first things that we talk about with employers is how much a smoker costs. So that gets their attention. Every smoker that you have is roughly costing you $3,400 [extra] every year, compared to a non-smoker. If they’re hospitalized, they’re going to be in the hospital longer. If they’re out of work, they’re going to be out of work longer. If they need medicine, they’re going to be on more medication and for longer. That could be a tremendous amount of drain on your bottom line.



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  1. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

  2. Boston.com has an article from 2010 where they talk about how Interactions moved to Massachusetts in the year prior. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2010/07/interactions_banks_63_million.html The article includes a link back to that Inside Indiana Business press release I linked to earlier, snarkily noting, "Guess this 2006 plan to create 200-plus new jobs in Indiana didn't exactly work out."

  3. I live on the east side and I have read all your comments. a local paper just did an article on Washington square mall with just as many comments and concerns. I am not sure if they are still around, but there was an east side coalition with good intentions to do good things on the east side. And there is a facebook post that called my eastside indy with many old members of the eastside who voice concerns about the east side of the city. We need to come together and not just complain and moan, but come up with actual concrete solutions, because what Dal said is very very true- the eastside could be a goldmine in the right hands. But if anyone is going damn, and change things, it is us eastside residents

  4. Please go back re-read your economics text book and the fine print on the February 2014 CBO report. A minimum wage increase has never resulted in a net job loss...

  5. The GOP at the Statehouse is more interested in PR to keep their majority, than using it to get anything good actually done. The State continues its downward spiral.