Cities could impose tax on cigarettes under bill

By Charles Ashby (February 8th, 2019)

DENVER — Local governments would be able to assess their own taxes on tobacco products without losing what revenues they already receive from the state under a bill working its way through the Colorado Legislature.

Under current law, local governments that assess their own fees, licenses or taxes on the sale of any tobacco product forgo their portion of cigarette tax revenues collected by the state, 27 percent of which are distributed to municipalities and counties based on sales in their jurisdictions.

House Bill 1033, which cleared the Colorado House and now awaits debate in the Senate, would change that.

But the two sponsors of the bill didn’t introduce it so local government can find a new revenue source. They introduced it to allow counties and statutory cities to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, as home-rule municipalities are already allowed to do.

Local governments that want to keep minors from the so-called practice of vaping would jeopardize their tobacco tax revenues, so it’s become a disincentive to ban the practice, said Lakewood Democratic Reps. Kerry Tipper and Chris Kennedy, who jointly introduced the bill.

“We’re trying to give parity amongst all local governments,” Tipper said. “For example, we had a young lady, I think she was 16 or 17 years old, who testified from Eagle County that her friends and many of the kids she knows in school as young as 11 get access to these e-cigarettes. It’s unbelievable.”

That measure isn’t the only one related to nicotine that the Legislature is considering. House Bill 1076, which has not yet been heard in committee, would add electronic smoking devices that contain nicotine to the Colorado Clean Indoor Act, which banned smoking in most public places.

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