Prices for cigarettes and other tobacco products in Aspen will see a substantial increase in the event that voters approve a local tobacco sales tax this fall.
The Aspen City Council agreed Monday to direct city staffers to continue their work on drafting a ballot question that would go to voters in the November election. The question could pose adding as high as a $4 tax on cigarettes and 40 percent tax for chewing tobacco.
The city has until Aug. 28 to formalize the ballot question for November. If passed, the local tobacco tax would take effect Jan. 1.
That’s the same day Ordinance 17, which City Council passed in June and raises the age to purchase tobacco products and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21, takes effect. By doing so, Aspen became the first municipality or county in Colorado to raise its tobacco-purchase age.
The council increased the age in response to an effort by local health care providers, led by Pitkin County Medical Officer Dr. Kimberly Levin, to deter young adults from using tobacco. The ordinance also was supported with letters to the council from Aspen School District Superintendent John Maloy, Aspen Valley Hospital CEO David Ressler and Aspen Chamber Resort Association President Debbie Braun.
By raising the purchase age, the city will forgo annual revenue of roughly $75,000 that it collects in state tobacco sales revenue.
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A voter-approved tobacco tax, however, would help offset that loss, the city’s Environmental Health director, CJ Oliver, told the council at its work session. And, noted Councilman Adam Frisch, “The price of cigarettes have a huge effect on young people starting.”
The council agreed…
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