Cigarette tax appears to be headed for the ballot as backers turn in 163,764 signatures

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Smokers in Colorado currently pay some of the lowest cigarette taxes in the country. That could change if voters approve a new tax on tobacco for which supporters submitted signatures Monday.

Healthier Colorado turned in 163,764 signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State today, the last day to turn in signatures for an item to appear on the November ballot.

Supporters of the tax only need 98,492 valid signatures to make the ballot.

The initiative would increase cigarette taxes by 8.75 cents per cigarette or $1.75 per pack. Colorado currently has a tax of 84 cents a pack. That puts Colorado at 38th in the country, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which keeps track of state cigarette taxes. The average state tax is $1.65 a pack, while the median is $1.53 a pack. That’s on top of the $1.01 federal tax on cigarettes.

This initiative would put Colorado in the company of states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and bring the total state and federal taxes on a pack of cigarettes to $3.60.

The initiative would also put a 22 percent tax on other tobacco products.

If approved, the change could put about $315.7 million per year into the state’s pocket. The money would go toward tobacco prevention and cessation programs and health-related programs, including continuing education, loan assistance for rural providers, veterans’ programs and construction and technology needs.