1. Increase the tobacco tax that currently stands at 70 cents below the national average;
2. Enhance Colorado's smokefree law to include electronic smoking devices;
3. Strengthen state and local laws around youth access to tobacco products; and
4. Protect and increase funding for tobacco prevention and control programs.
The American Lung Association in Colorado is a member of the Colorado Tobacco Free Alliance, which consists of statewide advocate partner groups working together to develop sound tobacco control polices. Joining with grassroots organizations at both the state and local level has strengthened the Lung Association's tobacco education, prevention and advocacy efforts statewide.
During the 2016 legislative session, the Colorado Tobacco Free Alliance fought back against House Bill 1370 and its attempts to weaken Colorado's tobacco prevention program and put in place a weak tobacco registration, not licensing, system. The bill also failed to remove Colorado's penalty for local communities who would like to license those who sell cigarettes. Colorado does not require a license to sell tobacco products, and state law also imposes a financial penalty on any local community that wishes to adopt a cigarette license, fee, or tax. House Bill 1370 also did little to address Colorado's flawed penalty system where few retailers ever have to pay a fine for selling tobacco to a person under age 18.
In 2016, Altria, parent company of Philip Morris and maker of Marlboro cigarettes, spent more than $17 million to oppose Amendment 72. Amendment 72 would have increased taxes on cigarettes by $1.75 per pack and used the revenue for a number of important purposes, including programs to prevent tobacco use and help people quit.
The tobacco industry campaign, labeled deceptive by more than one media outlet, led to a narrow defeat of Amendment 72 in November. The Lung Association was part of a coalition of more than 100 public health, medical, and veterans' organizations in support of Amendment 72.
Colorado's smokefree law does not include electronic smoking devices and also continues to exempt places like tobacco businesses. Over the last two years, more than a dozen local communities have expanded their smokefree law to include electronic smoking devices and cover outdoor areas like parks and playgrounds. Six Colorado communities now require a license to sell tobacco products other than cigarettes, and one requires a license for the sale of all tobacco products.
In 2017, the American Lung Association in Colorado will continue its work with partners to educate about the importance of increasing tobacco taxes, protect and increase funding for the state tobacco prevention program, strengthen state and local laws around youth access to tobacco products and increase the number of smoke and aerosol free public places and workplaces