SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Voters in Summit County are being asked about a county-wide tax on products that contain nicotine as they head to the polls or drop off their ballot on Tuesday. If approved, the measure would impose a $4-per-pack sales tax on cigarettes.
The local sales tax on all other tobacco and nicotine products, including e-cigarettes and vaping devices, would be 40% starting Jan. 1, 2020.
Additional increases of 10% per year for four years starting Jan. 1, 2021 would also be added.
Summit County commissioners tell CBS4 the effort to curb underage vaping and other tobacco use was a driving force for them to deal with what they consider a public health crisis.
Revenues generated through the nicotine sales tax would fund local tobacco control programs, including prevention and cessation programs, community education, health care services and local enforcement of tobacco control policies.
“We know that young people are very sensitive to price increases in tobacco and nicotine products, so this tax is one of the most effective tools available to us to prevent youth use,” Summit County Commissioner Thomas Davidson said. “Vaping has quickly and quietly crept its way into the halls of our high school and middle school, but our community is putting its foot down and saying that we are not okay with our children getting hooked on these products that are disastrous for their health.”
According to the 2017 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, both cigarette and e-cigarette use by Summit County youth is on the rise: 16.2% of high school students reported smoking cigarettes within the previous 30 days, compared with 4.7% in 2015; 40% reported using e-cigarettes in the previous 30 days, compared to 26% in 2015. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, youth who use e-cigarettes are four-to-seven times more likely to become lifelong tobacco users.
“We can’t afford to sit by idly while our kids develop lifelong addictions that pose serious risks to their health,” Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said.
“Vaping has ushered in shocking new levels of nicotine and tobacco use by youth, reversing decades of progress our country has made in this arena. Here in Summit County, we’re putting a stop to this extremely troubling trend.”
There has not been a public campaign against the effort, and several tobacco users CBS4 spoke with refused to be quoted for this story but did say the tax “isn’t fair.”
If approved by voters, Lawrence said the tax would put Summit County closer to the national average price for these products.