Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Colorado. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association in Colorado calls for the following actions to be taken by our elected officials or voters:
- Increase the tobacco tax that currently stands at 87 cents below the national average;
- Enhance Colorado's smokefree laws to include electronic smoking devices;
- Strengthen state and local laws around youth access to tobacco products; and
- Protect and increase funding for tobacco prevention and cessation 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 2017 legislative session, the Colorado Tobacco Free Alliance successfully defeated two bills attempting to weaken Colorado's protections from secondhand smoke and emissions from electronic smoking devices. The two bills would have permitted marijuana smoking and use of electronic smoking devices in many public and workplaces.
Local communities continue to lead the way in Colorado. In 2017, Aspen Colorado voters made history by supporting Colorado's first local tobacco tax and the city council voted to become the first Colorado community to raise the tobacco sales age to 21. The tax will be $3.00 per pack of cigarettes and a 40 percent tax on other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Colorado's $0.84 state tobacco tax remains low at 38th in the country. In 2016, a ballot measure to raise the tobacco tax to fund critical healthcare and tobacco prevention and cessation programs in Colorado was narrowly defeated because of a $17 million-dollar deception campaign waged by Altria, parent company of Philip Morris and maker of Marlboro cigarettes.
Aspen also became the second Colorado community to license the sale of cigarettes following Edgewater. Sadly, you do not need a license to sell tobacco in Colorado. More outrageous is state law imposes a financial penalty on any local community that would like to impose a cigarette license, fee, or tax. This archaic cigarette protection in state law has existed for more than 20 years. The Lung Association will continue to press the state legislature to remove this protection of the tobacco industry.
Local communities also continued their trend of strengthening and expanding their smokefree law to include more places and electronic smoking devices. In 2017, the Denver City Council voted to not allow smoking or use of electronic smoking devices at the 16th Street Mall.
In 2018, the American Lung Association in Colorado will continue its work with partners to promote increasing the price of tobacco products, support state and local strengthening of smokefree laws, reduce tobacco use through strategies like raising the sales age for tobacco to 21, and call on the legislature to remove the cigarette protection from state law.