Proposition EE: What it means for Coloradans

Molly O'Shea

Colorado Proposition EE, if passed, would incrementally increase taxes on nicotine liquids used in vape products and incrementally increase cigarette taxes, according to the measure text. 

“Currently, in Colorado, cigarettes are taxed at a statutory rate of 20 cents per pack (one cent per cigarette),” according to the measure’s Ballotpedia page. “Additionally, Amendment 35 of 2004 authorized an additional constitutional tax of 64 cents per pack (3.2 cents per cigarette) for a total state-levied cigarette tax of 84 cents.” 

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Other tobacco products are taxed at a rate of 40% of the manufacturer’s list price, and there are no current taxes on other nicotine products, like electronic cigarettes, according to Ballotpedia.

Coloradans can still vote in the 2020 election by dropping off their ballots at a designated dropbox in their county or voting in person at a polling place before 7 p.m. Nov. 3.

If Proposition EE passes, it would set a minimum price requirement for cigarettes, raise the statutory tax rate by 22 percentage points incrementally by July 2027 and create a tax on nicotine products that would match the tobacco product tax rate, according to Ballotpedia.

“The current $0.84 per pack rate would gradually rise to $2.64 by July of 2027,” according to CPR News. “It also includes a minimum price requirement, so a pack of cigarettes could be sold for no less than $7 and $70 for a carton beginning in 2021. That minimum would climb again in 2024 to no less than $7.50 a pack and $75 a carton.”

According to the measure text, the revenue would initially be used “primarily for public school funding to help offset revenue that has been lost as a result of the economic impacts related to COVID-19 and then for programs that reduce the use of tobacco and nicotine products.”

It would also go toward funding programs that already receive tobacco tax revenue and toward enhancing the voluntary state preschool program, making it widely available at no cost. The state would keep and spend all of the tax revenue “as a voter-approved revenue change,” according to the measure text. 

The “Yes on Prop EE” website supports Proposition EE because it “know(s) that smoking and vaping kills.”

Yes on Prop EE states that a vote in favor of Proposition EE is a vote in favor of public school funding for kids of all ages.

“We also know that increasing taxes on highly addictive nicotine products like cigarettes and vape ultimately has the effect of encouraging more people, particularly teens, to break their addictions and stop using the products,” the Yes on Prop EE website says. “This helps more people live healthier lives. Currently, Colorado has one of the lowest tobacco tax rates in the country and does not tax vape products.”

The “Vote No on EE” website says that Prop EE is a bad deal for Colorado for many reasons.

“As our economy recovers from COVID-19, now is not the time to raise taxes on any Colorado voter,” the website says. “Proposition EE is a blank check for the Legislature and creates a slush fund to spend on unidentified projects.” 

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Vote No on EE says that Proposition EE will harm small retail businesses by almost doubling the price of cigarettes and that none of the funding will go to preschool in the next 2 1/2 years and “there is no guarantee (preschools) will ever get money.”

Coloradans can still vote in the 2020 election by dropping off their ballots at a designated dropbox in their county or voting in person at a polling place before 7 p.m. Nov. 3.

Molly O’Shea can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @Molly_O23.