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Group: Blame policies for smoking

January 13, 2010

When it comes to encouraging smokers to quit, Indiana just isn’t getting it done.

That’s the upshot of a report card issued Tuesday by the American Lung Association.

The grades are self-serving, to be sure, since the association’s raison d’etre is to lobby for stricter policies against smoking and more spending on lung health programs, such as smoking cessation.

But the fact that Indiana doesn’t stack up well against other states may help explain why the adult smoking rate in Indiana is still 26 percent—more than 20 percent higher than the national average and essentially unchanged since 2003.

The association gave Indiana Fs for its poor spending on prevention and cessation programs and its lack of a smoke-free air policy. Indiana earned a C for how well state-run health insurance programs cover smoking-cessation treatment and a D for its 99.5-cent per-pack cigarette tax (the lung association wants every state to have a $2.68 tax per pack).

“This report can serve as a wake-up call for the Indiana General Assembly and Gov. Daniels," said Doug Stafford, executive director of the American Lung Association in Indiana, in a statement. "The consequences are life or death.”

Stafford wants the state Legislature to pass a smoke-free-air law this year. Four legislators introduced House Bill 1131 this month, which would ban smoking in all public places around the state.

Workplace smoking bans have been passed in 26 states. Similar legislation in Indiana has always failed. However, even without a law, 75 percent of all Indiana work places do not allow smoking.

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