Blocking of Indiana cigarette tax hike frustrates advocates

Indiana

Indiana Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, right, R-Martinsville, speaks with Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, during a Senate session on Thursday, April 1, 2021. Supporters of boosting Indiana’s cigarette tax expressed frustration Friday after Bray said Senate Republicans would not include the tax increase in their state budget plan being released next week. (AP Photo/Tom Davies)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Supporters of boosting Indiana’s cigarette tax are frustrated with the decision of state Senate Republicans to drop any increase from their state budget plan being released next week.

The move stripping the 50 cents-per pack increase included in the House budget bill is the latest rejection of a cigarette tax hike by Republicans who dominate the Senate. They have blocked for several years any increase of the current 99.5 cents-per pack rate that was last raised in 2007.

A coalition of health and business groups has pushed for a $2 per pack increase, saying it would help drive down Indiana’s smoking rate that is fourth highest in the country. An earlier version of the bill directed 40% of Indiana’s cigarette tax revenue toward Medicaid reimbursements for health care providers.

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