$1.89 billion in health care costs for Colorado directly caused by smoking

(May 1) – The House approved Rep. Yadira Caraveo’s bill that would give voters the choice to raise taxes on tobacco products, including a new tax on liquid nicotine used for vaping. There is currently no tax on liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes. If approved by voters, the referred measure would raise more than $300 million, half of which would go toward early childhood education and half to health care.

“In the six years I’ve been a pediatrician, I have seen the rise of the teen vaping epidemic and the negative impacts it is having on their health and development. Kids as young as eleven are vaping and this bill will help decrease youth use of nicotine and tobacco products,” said Rep. Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton. “Right now, there is a major loophole that is allowing vaping products to go untaxed. This will ask voters to close that loophole and put the funding toward early childhood education and health care in order to invest in our children and our state’s well-being.”

Rep. Caraveo is the only medical doctor in the legislature.

Numerous economic studies in peer-reviewed journals have documented that cigarette tax or price increases reduce both adult and underage smoking. In Colorado, an alarming 33 percent of students use tobacco products and 26 percent of high school students use e-cigarettes, which is twice the national average for teen vaping. Typically, one vaping cartridge contains the same amount of nicotine of a pack of cigarettes. Colorado’s current tobacco tax rate on cigarettes is one of the lowest rates in the country. The average state tobacco tax is $1.79 a pack. Colorado’s tax today is 84 cents a pack.

The revenue raised would be reinvested in preventing smoking and vaping, especially among youth, mental health, as well early learning and other health and education programs. Raising the taxes on tobacco products and cigarettes is highly effective at reducing smoking. Nationally, every 10 percent increase in cigarette prices reduces youth smoking by about 7 percent and total cigarette consumption by about 4 percent. Smoking-caused productivity losses in Colorado top $1.27 billion.

HB19-1333 was approved on a vote of 34-31. It now goes to the Senate.

Supporters of this measure include: Children’s Hospital Colorado, Healthier Colorado, Colorado Children’s Campaign, Mental Health Colorado, Early Childhood Summit, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Parent Possible, Gary Community Investments, Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council, American Heart Association, The Consortium, Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollution, Clayton Early Learning, EPIC, Boys & Girls Club, Healthy Child Care Colorado, among others.

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