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Lakewood, CO – Stop a Vapor Tax!

current status

Bill
Introduced

Public Hearing

Passed by Council

Signed by
Mayor

06/28/21 – 7:00 PM (MDT), Public Hearing, Item 17, Ordinance O-2021-15 “Tobacco Ballot”

The City of Lakewood, CO is moving forward with a proposal (Ordinance O-2021-15) to let voters decide on a new tax on vapor and smoke-free tobacco products. This tax would start at 20% retail, with the possibility of increasing it up to 50%.

Just like proposals in other cities, the real money-maker under the new tax rate is cigarettes, and that is likely what will drive voter enthusiasm for approving the measure. But taxing smoke-free nicotine and tobacco products at the same rate as cigarettes (or raising taxes at all on safer alternatives) is known to discourage switching and actually protect sales of cigarettes.

Use the “talking points” provided below for ideas on what to include in your written or spoken comments to the council. As always, please inlcude your personal experience with switching to vaping or other smoke-free alternatives like snus, nicotine pouches, or smokeless tobacco.

  • State that you are opposed to Ordinance O-2021-15 and any legislation that would make safer alternatives to smoking less affordable.
  • Share your experience with switching to vapor products. If affordability compared to continuing to smoke was a motivating factor for trying vaping or other smoke-free products, be sure to include that in your comments. Conversely, if the already high initial cost of these products delayed your first purchase, highlight this instead. Be sure to include any changes in your health that you’ve experienced as a result of switching to safer nicotine or tobacco products.
  • Taxes on traditional cigarettes are intended to discourage use. But, e-cigarettes and other smoke-free tobacco products are estimated to be 98 – 99% less harmful than smoking, discouraging use is counter to the goals of reducing smoking rates.
  • Other governments are taking exactly the opposite approach. Public Health England (the government public health agency) recently explicitly endorsed a policy of encouraging smokers to switch to e-cigarettes and vapor products.
  • Sin taxes are regressive. People who smoke and those who switch to vaping and other smoke-free alternatives are disproportionately poor and low income people. Sin taxes place unnecessary burdens on an already financially challenged group. To make matters worse, people in the low-income bracket are less likely to be insured and lack access to health care providers. The affordable resources available to these people have low success rates.
  • Imposing a tax on these products will drive consumers to shop in neighboring states that do not have a similar tax. Concurrently, consumers will be encouraged to shop online for better deals, sending even more money out of the community. Local businesses will not be able to compete, be forced to close their doors, and jobs will be lost. This is bad for the state and will result in less revenue, not more.
  • Taxing smoke-free tobacco and nicotine products in a manner similar to how combustible tobacco products are taxed sends a confusing and inaccurate message to would-be adopters that these two very different products present similar risks. The result of this message is that more people, those that otherwise would have switched to a smoke-free product, will be encouraged to continue smoking.

Agenda - 06/28/21

Read Full Ordinance Text

Take Action Now!

How to make your voice heard:

Prior to the hearing, comments are being collected on the agenda item page for the ordinance.

Participating in the hearing:

  • Join from a PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, or Android device: https://lakewood.zoom.us/j/92452943958 
  • Phone Number for Public Input: 1-253-215-8782
  • Webinar ID: 924 5294 3958, #, #
  • Press *9 to Request to Speak, you will be prompted when to speak.
  • Press *6 to Unmute

(NOTE) The public hearing on this ordinance is separate from “Item 4, Public Comment.” Please hold your comments until Item 17 is called.