Colorado residents will now pay a higher tax on cigarettes.
Amendment 35, which raised the tax on one pack of cigarettes
from the current amount of 20 cents to 84 cents, passed Tuesday
night. The extra taxes collected will be spent on expanding
existing health care services and tobacco education programs.
Tobacco is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in Colorado and
health care costs relating to smoking are extensive. Advocates for
the amendment said the Colorado cigarette tax is the lowest in the
nation and raising the price would prevent teenagers from starting.
Advocates also said the increase will not have a negative effect on
revenues at local and state levels.
The opposition said the amendment could hurt low-income families
of Colorado, since these families are more likely to smoke. Other
arguments included that it would increase taxes, as well as the
cost and size of the government. Taxes for a one-pack-a-day smoker
will also increase by $234 a year. Funding for new health care may
not increase by much, because current law may result in a large
portion of the new tax money being spent on existing programs.
Opponents also said the new tax money may be inadequate over time
for some programs, while others may have more than required.