Colorado voters will decide whether smokers should pay more for cigarettes

A proposal to increase state cigarette taxes threefold to $2.59 a pack will be on the ballot.

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A cigarette burns in black and white. (Denis Defreyne, Flickr)

A proposal to increase state cigarette taxes threefold to $2.59 a pack will be on the ballot.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office announced Monday that the initiative to increase tobacco taxes has enough valid signatures. Out of 161,412 signatures submitted, roughly 116,954 are valid, based on a 5 percent sample. Supporters needed 98,492 to get on 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.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids ranks Colorado 38th in the country for 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.

The tax increase would put Colorado in the company of states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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

If approved, the change could raise up to $315.7 million per year for tobacco prevention and cessation programs and health-related programs, including continuing education, loan assistance for rural providers, veterans’ programs and construction and technology needs.