Governor Polis joins Rep. Caraveo to announce legislation giving Colorado voters choice to raise taxes on tobacco products

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

DENVER — Today, Governor Jared Polis joined Representative Yadira Caraveo, along with other public health advocates to announce legislation that would give voters the choice to tax nicotine vaping the same as cigarettes and raise the taxes on tobacco products. If passed, the referred measure would raise more than $300 million, half of which would go toward education and half to health care.

“Colorado currently has the highest rate of teen vaping in the nation,” said Governor Jared Polis. “This isn’t a statistic we’re proud of. This measure would help keep tobacco products out of the hands of kids and put more resources toward schools, tobacco prevention and cessation efforts, and toward reducing healthcare costs.”

In Colorado, 33 percent of students use tobacco products and 26.2 percent of high school students use e-cigarettes, which is twice the national average for teen vaping.

"Increasing taxes on tobacco products is an effective way to reduce tobacco use, especially for youth," said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. "Tobacco is still the leading preventable cause of disease in our state. This measure would help prevent addiction, and save all Coloradans money on health care, whether they use tobacco or not."

“This proposal has the potential to significantly decrease the number of youths who smoke and vape,” said Robin Deterding, MD, medical director of the Breathing Institute at Children’s Hospital Colorado. “We urge the legislature to pass this measure so that Coloradans can come together this November and vote to address the teen vaping epidemic that is gripping our local communities.”

“Addiction to nicotine products is a non-partisan issue, and the tobacco and e-cigarette industries don’t get veto power over the future of our kids. We are going to come together as Coloradans to pass this measure in the interest of our health and our children,” said Jake Williams, Healthier Colorado Executive Director.

"Raising the price of tobacco is one of the most effective ways to decrease youth use.  It has been over a decade since Colorado last raised its price on tobacco statewide, ranking 39th in the nation," stated Jodi Radke, the Regional Advocacy Director for the Rocky Mountains/Great Plains Region for Tobacco Free Kids. "The time is now to protect Colorado's kids and save lives."

See the full bill draft here.