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Smokers fuming

Coloradans approved a tobacco tax Tuesday

Susan Reeves, a smoker of 36 years, has tried “everything” to quit, so a recently passed tax to increase the cost of tobacco products probably won’t help in that department.

“Paying more money for cigarettes is not going to make a difference until I quit,” she said. “I don’t think this will cause other real smokers to quit. It will just make people complain more.”

Colorado voters overwhelmingly passed Amendment 35, approving a 64-cent tax increase on a pack of cigarettes, bringing the total excise tax to 84 cents. It also raises the tax on other tobacco products by 20 percent. The $175 million a year in estimated revenue is slated for health care programs for children, the elderly and indigent populations. Lawmakers are expected next year to pass legislation to forward those dollars toward health care costs.



But with the tax increase set to go into effect Jan 1., tobacco users haven’t yet started stocking up, said Craig’s Smoker Friendly employee Bobbie Simpson.

“People normally buy cigarettes by the pack,” she said.



While Simpson worked a Friday afternoon rush, though, at least one customer inquired about when the tax increase would take effect.

“People come in here with their last dime to buy cigarettes,” she said. “I think that, if anything, the tax will make people smoke a little less.”

A person who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day — which Simpson said is a typical amount among customers — will now pay an extra $234 a year to support the habit.

Paying more for cigarettes will inevitably have an effect on Chris Herod. The 22-year-old said he voted for the tax because he thought it would be a good way to help him quit smoking. Yet, Herod didn’t think the tax would curb smoking among teenagers.

Herod, who said he “only smokes when he drinks,” plans to ditch the habit before the increase goes into effect.

“If it’s getting that expensive, why would I want to pay more to kill my lungs,” he said. “It’s already way too much a pack.”

Owner of The Popular Bar, Dena Garcia said she voted for the tax increase but she doesn’t think it will slow down business at the bar.

Customers regularly have a smoke when they have a drink and the bar owner keeps a stock of cigarettes for sale behind the bar. Garcia remembers when people said they would quit smoking when the price of a pack of cigarettes pushed $2, yet those people remained smokers.

“There’s a lot of people into bumming cigarettes, but that will get really annoying now because they are expensive,” she said.

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com


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