Colorado Tobacco Tax Act, Amendment 35 (2004)
|Voting on Tobacco|
|Not on ballot|
|Colorado Amendment 35 (2004)|
Election Results via: Colorado Secretary of State
Cigarette taxes are levied by the federal government and all 50 states. The federal tax rate on cigarettes is 39 cents per pack. For 2004, state tax rates range from a high of $2.80 per pack in Rhode Island to a low of 20 cents per pack in Colorado. The national average is 98 cents per pack.
Tobacco products taxes
Taxes on non-cigarette tobacco products are levied on cigars, pipe tobacco, snuff, and chewing tobacco by the federal government and 47 states. The federal government levies its tax according to weight. States tax tobacco products based either on weight or a percentage of price. The tobacco products tax rate in Colorado is 20 percent of the price.
History of tobacco taxes in Colorado
In 1964, the state established a tax on cigarettes of 3 cents per pack. Prior to the state cigarette tax and through 1972, many local governments also taxed cigarettes. In 1973, the state raised the tax on cigarettes to 10 cents per pack and gave local governments the option of receiving a portion of state cigarette taxes or levying their own tax. No local government has levied a tax since that time. In 1986, Colorado's cigarette tax was raised to its current rate of 20 cents per pack, and the tobacco products tax of 20 percent of the price was enacted. The proposal prohibits the legislature from reducing these taxes in the future.
Current tobacco revenues
Colorado collected about $64.8 million from cigarette and tobacco products taxes last year. About one-quarter of this amount is sent to local governments statewide to use as they see fit. The remaining three-quarters is deposited into the state's bank account, along with other state taxes, to pay for state programs. Because Colorado is a participant to the master settlement agreement between the tobacco companies and the various states, the state expects to receive approximately $118 million per year in additional money for the next 20 years.
In the current budget year, the state will spend about $3.0 billion to provide health care to low-income individuals, $4.3 million for programs on the dangers of tobacco use, and $141.2 million for a variety of prevention programs run by the state health department.
1) Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in Colorado, killing 4,200 Coloradans each year. Annual health care costs in Colorado directly related to smoking are more than $1.0 billion. Under this proposal, funds will be provided to prevent, detect, and treat cancer and heart and lung disease, ailments that affect many Coloradans. The new taxes will also help low-income children and adults receive health care that they could not otherwise afford. The proposal will provide money to treat individuals who have tobacco-related illnesses and will lower future tobacco-related health care costs by reducing tobacco use throughout the state.
2) Colorado is currently 50th among the states in the level of cigarette taxes. Raising tobacco taxes will deter many youth from becoming addicted to tobacco products. Almost all adult smokers started smoking when they were teenagers. In Colorado, one in every four high school students smokes and over a third use tobacco of some sort. Youth tobacco consumption in Colorado is higher than the national average. Studies have shown that as the price of tobacco products rises, an increasing number of youth will stop, or never start, using tobacco. Funding programs that educate children about the dangers of tobacco use will also discourage youth from using tobacco and will help smokers to quit.
3) This proposal will not decrease revenue to state and local governments. In every state that has raised cigarette taxes, revenue has increased despite reduced cigarette pack sales and use of the internet to purchase cigarettes. This proposal ensures that local governments will receive funds to make up for any revenue loss due to lower tobacco sales because it guarantees that local governments will receive a portion of the new tax moneys.
1) The proposal puts a tax increase in the state constitution and increases the size and cost of government. Colorado smokers and tobacco users will pay 320 percent more in state cigarette taxes and 100 percent more in state taxes on other tobacco products to fund state health care programs. Taxes for a one-pack-a-day smoker would increase by $234 each year. Existing constitutional spending requirements have limited the ability of the legislature to react to changes in the state budget and economic conditions. This proposal adds yet another inflexible spending mandate. Further, reductions in sales and consumption due to this proposal will reduce funding to local governments that depend upon current cigarette tax revenues to fund essential government functions like fire and police protection.
2) The tax increase may cause additional hardship to low-income families in Colorado. People living in poverty are 48 percent more likely to smoke than those not living in poverty. The tax takes a much larger bite out of the budgets of low-income individuals than wealthy individuals. There is no guarantee that smokers will benefit from the new health care programs. If this is the case, smokers would be paying much higher taxes, but few would receive additional health care services.
3) The proposal allocates $28 million in badly needed state revenue to tobacco education programs which may not be needed in future years if tobacco use continues to decline. Nationally, demand is decreasing 2 percent per year, but in Colorado demand is falling even more rapidly and will decrease further if consumers turn to other sources, such as the internet, for their purchases. The new tax money may be inadequate over time to maintain some of the proposal's programs while others may have more money than they require. The legislature will not be able to fix these problems because it will have no control over the distribution of this money.
Citizens For a Healthier Colorado spent a total of $2,079,750 in support of the measure. Protect Our Constitution-Vote No on 35 spent a total of $237,394 in opposition of the measure.
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