Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated that the city prohibited smoking in any Fort Collins restaurants or bars in 2015. This rule has been in place since 2003. In 2015, the city prohibited smoking and vaping in Fort Collins downtown areas. A previous version of this article also stated that the tax would increase the price per pack to $1.75. The tax will increase the price per pack by $1.75.
This November, Colorado citizens will vote on the Colorado Tobacco Tax Increase, also known as Amendment 72, which has been designed to triple taxes on cigarette packets.
The current tax rate on cigarettes is 84 cents per packet, but the amendment would increase the tax by $1.75 per pack of 20, making the total cost for a pack $2.59.
The amendment, one of nine for the state of Colorado, would more than triple the state’s current tax on cigarettes and tobacco products.
Percentages of the tax revenue generated will be allocated to the funding of medical research and prevention programs, to help better inform youth about the health implications associated with smoking.
Tobacco-related diseases are the leading cause of preventable death in Colorado and in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Tobacco consumption is responsible for one of every five deaths in the U.S. each year, according to the CDC. This is more than 480,000 deaths annually, including deaths from secondhand smoke.
Amendment 72 proposes a significant increase in cigarette tax, which is expected to reduce tobacco usage.
Economics professor David Mushinski said cigarette taxes, however much they may increase, do not have much of an impact on consumption for long-term smokers.
Likewise, political science professor John Straayer, Ph.d, said the tax increase will have a marginal impact, however it will not have a “huge and immediate” effect on tobacco usage.
Straayer said although the amendment may have a “marginal” effect in discouraging tobacco consumption, long-term active smokers will most likely be unaffected by the tax increase.
“(The tax increase) is a contributing factor to a reduction of tobacco usage … however, is that going to be huge or immediate? … I don’t think so,” he said.
The tobacco tax increase is intended to target the younger population.
Mushinski said the amendment will have its greatest impact on the younger population, as they are typically the new, less-experienced smokers. He said students may be more responsive to the tax increase since they are typically less experienced smokers.
If smoking continues in the U.S. at its current rate, it is estimated about one in every 13 Americans aged 17 years and younger in the current population will die prematurely from a smoking-induced disease, according to the CDC.
“If the purpose of the amendment is to reduce smoking, then it will have its greatest impact on young people, and so its impact will be more likely to be seen here on campus than in the general population,” Mushinski said.
Smoking on and around campus continues to be a long-standing issue of concern for CSU.
In January, the University expanded its smoke-free zones around campus in its push to promote CSU’s “green campus” image.
Fort Collins has also implemented new smoking restriction laws.
The University has tried to deter students from tobacco consumption through the use of educational campaigns and support resources to help students quit smoking.
Students on campus displayed divided opinions about the increased tax prices of cigarettes.
Non-smoking students said they would likely vote in favor of the tax increase on tobacco as they are the ones unaffected by the proposal.
Those in favor of the amendment said there is the potential to deter students from smoking due to the significant tax price increase.
Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences freshman Raven McGann said college students would be less inclined to pay the higher tax prices, particularly at prices almost three times more than the current tobacco tax rate in the state.
Some students said that they support the amendment because of the effect of secondhand smoke.
Health and exercise science freshman Mary Ellendorff said campus will be more environmentally friendly if students stopped smoking.
“(Less students smoking) will decrease the amount of secondhand smoke so the overall health benefits of each and every student on campus will be a lot better,” she said.
Other students said they are opposed to the methods used to reduce tobacco consumption.
Rangeland Ecology senior Sean Uhle, a non-smoker, said many students who are active smokers are “ignorant” of tobacco consumption, and increased taxation necessary may not act as an effective deterrent to smoking.
Uhle said there should be more educational programs available to help inform both students and the younger population of the risks of tobacco usage.
On the other hand, students who are active smokers said higher tax prices would necessarily not discourage them from smoking. Instead, smokers will inevitably spend more money on cigarettes, they said.
“If you’re an active smoker, you’re likely to pay more because you have to now,” said Emma Myers, junior international studies major.
If passed, Amendment 72 will take effect on January 1, 2017.
Voters will have the option to vote for or against the proposed tax increase on cigarettes and tobacco products when they cast their ballot on Election Day.
For more information about Amendment 72, readers can refer to the 2016 Ballot Information Book (Blue Book) available online at: http://leg.colorado.gov/.