I’m writing this, my final message as chairman of the Indiana Hospital Association, not long after our organization’s Annual Membership Meeting. Thanks to all for making it a tremendous event! We had wonderful attendance and valuable interaction, and we continued to advance our work on the broad health care issues we all face. We also recognized my successor, Bob Brody of Franciscan Alliance, who will take over as chairman in January. Bob definitely has a heart for our organization, as well as for the communities that we serve, and I know he’ll do a fabulous job!
As the new year approaches, we’re heading toward another legislative session. We hope to inspire our governmental leaders to work in ways that reflect our common mission of enhancing the well-being of Indiana. To that end, we’re continuing to build our new Alliance for a Healthier Indiana, working to add more allies in our cause to positively impact health in a state known for faring poorly in national health rankings. We’ve begun to share our intention to tackle the issue of tobacco use.
Why is this important? We have high rates of lung cancer, heart disease and infant mortality, all of which can be tied back to tobacco. While the nation as a whole is reducing tobacco use to below 16 percent of the population, our rate in Indiana continues to rise, and is now above 23 percent. We’re not asking to become the best—that can’t happen overnight. But we’re advocating for policies that will point our trends in the right direction.
We believe the way to achieve that is to increase the cost of tobacco through additional taxes that would support health care, to raise funding for cessation and prevention, to increase the legal smoking age from 18 to 21 and to repeal the Smoker’s Bill of Rights that has been in place since the early ’90s. We think the time is now, and our alliance is prepared to stand firm and present our proposals.
The Indiana Hospital Association has led the way in this important work on behalf of the people of Indiana. I’m proud of our effort to bring together a wide range of constituents and am looking forward to what we can achieve together. Thank you for your support in this initiative and the other important work we’ve done in the past year—it has been an honor to serve as chairman of this fantastic organization!