Nearly a quarter of Hoosiers smoke – and Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar says that costs the state nearly $3 billion a year in healthcare.
He says reducing the smoking rate isn’t just about health – it’s about business too.
“Research has shown that, on average, an employee who smokes will cost the employer 40-percent more than a nonsmoker for healthcare costs,” Brinegar says.
The Chamber wants to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21, eliminate the smokers’ bill of rights (which prevents employers from screening smokers in the hiring process) and increase the state’s cigarette tax.
Brinegar says those measures will incentivize current smokers to quit.
“And it becomes a higher barrier of entry for young people to start smoking because now it’s more expensive,” he says.
Lawmakers last session debated raising the cigarette tax as part of a road funding discussion.