Colorado House Passes Bill Aiming for Tax Increases on Tobacco, Vape Products

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The Colorado House passed a proposal Wednesday that would ask voters to allow tax hikes on tobacco and nicotine products.

House Bill 1333, which was introduced last week, passed with a 34 to 31 vote. The bill still needs to pass the Senate before the session is scheduled to end on Friday.

The bill would create a new tax on nicotine products, such as vape pens and e-cigarettes, at 62 percent of the wholesale price. It would also increase the tax on tobacco by 22 percent of the wholesale price and raise the tax on cigarettes to 8.75 cents per cigarette.

Voters in the state have to approve the tax increases as required by the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. If the bill passes, the question would go on the ballot in November.

Taxes on cigarettes in the state would go from $0.84 per pack to $2.59 per pack if approved. The measure is estimated to raise $317 million in revenue, which would be used for health care and education.

The legislation's proponents, including Gov. Jared Polis, said the taxes are aimed at reducing youth consumption.

"Colorado currently has the highest rate of teen vaping in the nation," Polis said in a statement. "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."

Critics of the bill include prominent Democrat Ted Trimpa, who is lobbying against the legislation on behalf of vape shops.

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