Smoking, of course, is widely known now as one of the greatest
health risks United States citizens face. Besides the risks of
lung, throat and mouth cancer, smokers are plagued with bad breath
and brown teeth. Fort Collins and other Colorado cities have
outlawed smoking indoors to protect nonsmokers from secondhand
smoke. All of this is common knowledge.
One would think, then, that Colorado voters should throw their
full support behind Amendment 35 this November. The ballot issue
would add a 64-cent tax on cigarettes and a 20 percent tax on all
Relatively speaking, the 64-cent increase is not that much.
Colorado has the lowest tax on cigarettes in the country. Amendment
35 would only bring the state up to date with the rest of the
The revenues from the tax would fund health-related costs.
Forty-six percent would be spent to increase enrollment of children
and pregnant women in the state’s “Children’s Basic Health Plan.”
Another 19 percent will fund primary care, 16 percent for tobacco
prevention, 16 percent for detection and treatment of cancer,
cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases and 3 percent will be placed
in the government’s general health fund. It is estimated that the
new tax could raise as much as $175 million each year.
This sounds pretty good (at least, for those of us who don’t
have an ethical problem with charging addicted individuals for our
health costs.) The higher tax could potentially deter smokers from
buying as many cigarettes, while the revenue produced will fund
health and preventative programs.
But for voters who were in Colorado for the 2000 election, this
amendment has a staunch odor. At first, it’s hard to place, like
searching the refrigerator for that leftover entr�e you
brought home last month but never ate because it had a weird
It reeks of Amendment 23, the initiative that, combined with the
Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, has utterly ruined and devastated higher
Amendment 23, which was passed in the 2000 election, requires a
minimum increase of 1 percent plus inflation for K-12 public school
funding – each year. Since TABOR doesn’t allow for an increase in
the state tax, and only a certain percentage of state revenue can
be spent on education, each year the amount of money going to
higher education has decreased more and more.
And the reason the Colorado General Assembly can’t fix this very
large conundrum is that Amendment 23 was passed by voters in an
election. Only voters can repeal it.
If Amendment 35 is passed, the legislature will have no power to
adjust how the money from the taxes is spent or even repeal the
tax. Problems with the state’s future budget now unforeseeable
could be disastrous if Amendment 35 passes.
Ben Bleckley is a junior English major. His column runs on