The Great American Smokeout, a Day to Call for Action on Disparities in Tobacco Use

INDIANAPOLIS – The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is marking the American Cancer Society’s 45th annual Great American Smokeout happening Thursday by calling on state lawmakers to protect the health of our youth, low-income Hoosiers, LGBTQ+ communities and communities of color by passing strong tobacco control legislation to counteract Big Tobacco’s manipulative tactics that target these community members.

For decades, Big Tobacco has aggressively marketed cheap and flavorful tobacco products to marginalized communities in Indiana, leading to wide disparities in the burden of tobacco use. As a result, smoking prevalence is 44% higher among LGBTQ+ Hoosiers than the general population and Black Hoosiers are more likely to use menthol tobacco products which make quitting more difficult.

The lack of comprehensive tobacco control laws and tobacco prevention funding has also contributed to disparities in tobacco use among Hoosiers Indiana has one of the nation’s lowest cigarette tax rates at $0.995, making tobacco more accessible to our youth. Meanwhile, Indiana spent just $7.5 million on prevention and cessation programs last year, or 10% of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended. These policy failures have left more Hoosiers susceptible to Big Tobacco’s influence.

Public policy changes can and must serve as the main way to shield against and reverse longstanding inequalities – but it must be done comprehensively and with the well-being of those most affected in mind. That is why ACS CAN has called on Indiana lawmakers to increase the cigarette tax by $2 per pack and invest more in public health programs.

As our battle with COVID-19 continues, we must do everything in our power to keep all our communities healthy and safe—which means building strong public health infrastructure including comprehensive tobacco control measures.  Long after this pandemic passes, people deserve to live full, healthy lives free from the problems of tobacco use. Indiana lawmakers should act to pass a significant cigarette tax increase in 2021 and invest more in critical prevention programs. Through these initiatives, we can truly start to reduce health disparities and reduce the toll of tobacco on our state for everyone. 

About ACS CAN 

 The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org.