Nov 022004
 
Authors: Erin Skarda

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.

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