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Coloradans should vote yes on Amendment 72

At this point in election season, it can be extremely tempting to give up and check out of the political scene. More and more people are getting fed up with the current state of the presidential race, whether out of fear, anger, or embarrassment—especially when it comes to the two major candidates representing our country. Yet given the inescapable nature of political propaganda in the media and on campus, I think redirecting our focus to issues on the Colorado state ballot is a better option than distancing ourselves from politics altogether.

There are many pivotal amendment propositions on this year’s ballot, including proposals to increase the state’s minimum wage, establish a statewide health care system, provide access to the Aid-In-Dying drug, and raise state taxes on tobacco products. While each of these propositions are extremely important and deserve to be addressed, I am choosing to advocate for Amendment 72 in this column.

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According to the 2016 State Ballot Information Booklet, if passed this November, Amendment 72 would “increase the state tax on a pack of cigarettes from $0.84 to $2.59, increase the state tax on other tobacco products from 40 percent to 62 percent of the price, and distribute the new tax money for medical research, tobacco-use prevention, doctors and clinics in rural or low-income areas, veterans’ services, and other health-related programs.”

To me, a non-smoker who has seen the health effects of nicotine dependency on others, this proposal seems like a no-brainer—especially in Colorado. Last year, the United Health Foundation named Colorado the eighth healthiest state in the nation, as well as the least obese. Our state also ranks first in terms of physical activity and has the second-lowest number of residents with diabetes. In the past, the state has established policies that ban smoking in public areas and restrict cigarette advertising in an effort to promote public health, and I think increasing the cigarette tax should be the next step. Since the majority of Coloradans already lead healthy lifestyles that do not involve smoking, I think the passing of Amendment 72 would further promote the ideal of healthy living and give those in the minority all the more reason to follow suit.

Medical institutions like the Children’s Hospital of Colorado have recently voiced their support for Amendment 72, claiming that “every year, more than 5,000 Coloradans—most of whom started smoking as teenagers—die from tobacco-related illnesses. Increasing the tobacco tax is a proven way to fight this deadly problem and stop kids from starting to smoke in the first place.”

And it makes sense; most smokers begin as young, rebellious adolescents who likely do not have adequate jobs to support a smoking habit—especially if it means spending upwards of ten dollars several times per week on cigarettes. When coupled with the task of persuading someone of age to purchase cigarettes for them, the increase in state tax on tobacco products makes smoking a difficult habit for teenagers to maintain. The Children’s Hospital of Colorado also predicts that if it is passed, Amendment 72 will result in a 19.6 percent decrease in underage smoking and roughly 35,000 adolescents will be kept from smoking in adulthood.

In terms of the tax revenue being reallocated to fund medical research and local health centers in low-income areas, Amendment 72 seems to propose one of the most pragmatic and straightforward solutions for minimizing cigarette use in Colorado. Not only will the extra $1.75 per pack deter non-smokers from picking up the habit and lead others to quit, but it will also directly benefit long-time smokers with serious health conditions by revamping their medical centers. In other words, Amendment 72 has the potential to positively impact nearly every demographic in Colorado with regard to preventing tobacco use—and to that, we should all vote yes.

Collegian Opinion Columnist Laurel Thompson can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @laurelanne1996.

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  • M

    MickaelmercOct 5, 2016 at 9:42 am

    This seems to just be another money grab especially since that other crap with increasing minium wage.

    Reply
  • S

    suga shaneOct 1, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    A higher sin tax on cigarettes is a regressive tax. Lower income individuals will be burdened to a much greater degree than higher income individuals.

    Reply
    • W

      Willam NatOct 2, 2016 at 6:57 am

      You are absolutely right, poor people (and their families) will be hurt. And who thinks money is a solution? SMOKERS are addicted! The way to help people to get rid of their tobacco addiction is not taxes! It is spending money on ways to break addictions.

      Assisted suicide Proposition 106 will also endanger poor people who don’t have great medical care (and top pain management specialists) and would be more likely to agree to suicide.

      Reply
  • T

    TomSep 29, 2016 at 11:46 am

    Since it is already illegal for those under 18 to purchase cigarettes, the argument that raising taxes prevents them from smoking is flawed. It is an enforcement issue (including if they have older friends that buy cigarettes for them), not a price issue. What many minors do is called “butt diving” where they find partially smoked cigarettes in ashtrays (I’ve witnessed it many times). This creates a new disease-related health hazard. Also, they troll vehicles looking for visible cigarettes to steal. Both of these problems have been created by the formation of knee-jerk laws pushed by organizations who stand to gain a lot of money. Having lived on the east coast when taxes were raised excessively, I’ve known less well off people who went from burger and rice to dollar-a-pack hot dogs and Ramen so they could still buy cigarettes (they’re addicted after all). The inability to purchase quality food is creating nearly as big a health problem as smoking (why aren’t we taxing sodas and fast food burgers $2.59 a pop?). Also, they will source cigarettes from out of state friends/relatives and companies, taking revenue away from Colorado. Secondhand smoke is less of an issue than it used to be since indoor smoking is banned in most public places, but if someone wants to smoke in their home/car it is their legal right, just as the neighbor has a right to fire up his grill, lawnmower, and car while we sit in the haze of summer forest fire smoke.
    Smoking is a harmful habit. To tackle it seriously, the FDA should mandate gradually lowering nicotine levels to the bare minimum (including a zero percent option to help get over the psychological addiction) to help smokers quit, and other ingredients that are known carcinogens should be designed out of them (Japanese have safer cigarettes w/lower cancer rates). The purchase age should be raised to 21 so that younger high school students don’t have easy access to 18-year-old high school students to buy for them. Public ashtrays should be discouraged or at least require chimney style shoots where partially used cigarettes cannot be retrieved. Why isn’t there an intense push to save people’s lives by doing these things? Because billions of tax dollars will be lost as well as customers—the health care system gets both by keeping it status quo—the smoker just pays more and still gets sick.

    Reply