Voters in Aspen, Colo. will decide whether or not to increase the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products during the upcoming November election, though the specific amount remains in question.
At a work session on Monday, the City Council instructed staff to continue developing a ballot question which will be put to voters this fall that could seek an increase of up to $4 per pack of cigarettes and up to 40 percent of the wholesale price of other tobacco products such as premium cigars.
Colorado currently has a statewide tax of 40 percent of the wholesale price on other tobacco products and 84 cents per pack on cigarettes.
The council must also decide the schedule for the increases to take place. While the council could seek the maximum increase, it could also choose to phase it in gradually over the course of several years; for instance adding $1 to the price of a pack of cigarettes at the start of the next four years. The money would most likely be directed to the city’s general fund, though a portion could be directed to a specific health initiative.
In June, the Aspen City Council approved an increase to the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, raising it to 21-years-old, a change that will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018 and will make Aspen the first city in Colorado to enact such an increase. As part of that increase, the city stands to lose upwards of $75,000 in tax revenue, something this increase would help to recoup.
The language is scheduled to be finalized and voted on at the council’s August 28 meeting.
Aspen is home to approximately 7,000 residents, but is best known for being a destination for skiing and resorts.