Colorado Medical Society

November ballot initiatives

Thursday, September 01, 2016 12:21 PM

It should come as no surprise to any physician that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Colorado, killing more than 5,000 Coloradans per year and burdening our citizens with $1.9 billion in annual health care costs. With over 650,000 adult smokers, 24,000 smoking high school students, and over 7 million packs of cigarettes bought or smoked by minors annually, Colorado has fallen behind most states in efforts to fight smoking; indeed, in 2015, cigarette sales increased in Colorado for the first time in over a decade.

This November, the citizens of Colorado will have the opportunity to combat this public health threat by voting to raise an additional $315 million through increases in the state cigarette tax, as well as taxes on other tobacco products.  Not only will this measure help to decrease tobacco use (with estimates that it will prevent more than 34,000 kids from becoming smokers, save over 20,000 lives, and decrease future health care costs by more than $1.4 billion), it will raise much-needed funds for Colorado-based medical research into treatments for tobacco-related disease, tobacco education/prevention/cessation programs, veterans and youth health services, and debt repayment for medical professionals serving in rural and underserved areas.

Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, it is likely that the tobacco industry will work hard to defeat this ballot measure here in Colorado; indeed, they have already spent $17 million to fight a similar measure in California. The Colorado Academy of Family Physicians (CAFP) and CMS are working with the Campaign for a Healthy Colorado to fight back against tobacco companies’ efforts, and to support voters in choosing a proven strategy to improve public health – a strategy that will prevent many of our patients from smoking, while aiding those we know need just a little more help to quit.

Over 80 organizations – including CAFP, CMS, Children’s Hospital Colorado, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, and the American Lung Association – support the measure. I encourage you to find out more for yourself by visiting; it is my hope that you will stand together with CMS and CAFP on Election Day to help make Colorado an even healthier place to live.

As always, thank you for everything that you do for our patients, our profession, and the citizens of Colorado.