New Bill Introduced to Ask Voters to Raise Tobacco Tax and Put Funding Toward Education and Health Care

Nicotine smoking costs the state $1.89 billion annually in health care costs

(Apr. 24) – Rep. Yadira Caraveo and Gov. Jared Polis joined public health advocates today unveil new legislation 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 excise 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 education and half to health care.

“Coloradans value the health of our children but we rank number one in the country for teen vaping,” said Rep. Caraveo, D-Thornton. “As a pediatrician, I understand the negative consequences nicotine has on brain development and the health of our young people. This measure will help decrease smoking and increase funding for early childhood education and health care.”

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, 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. One vaping cartridge contains the 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.

“We know that taxing Tobacco products is the number one way to keep kids from smoking,” said Sen. Rhonda Fields, the co-prime sponsor. “This legislation will keep our kids healthy while investing the revenue in health and education.”

Here is the text of HB19-1333.

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