That's possibly the idea in which Colorado voters may decide on a ballot measure that would increase the state’s nicotine tax to fund free preschool. Last Friday, the two citizens advocating for the measure filed at least a dozen possible versions of the bill with the Office of Legislative Council in Denver.
The concept is simple; money from a new nicotine products tax would offer free preschool, helping Democratic Gov. Jared Polis make good on his campaign promise of free preschool across the state. Early childhood education advocate Anna Jo Haynes and Denver-based Clínica Tepeyac CEO Jim Garcia are the two citizen activists who filed the ballot proposals with the state.
Rep. Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton, last year proposed asking voters to increase the tax on nicotine products that would have doubled Colorado’s investment into preschool programs. This tax would also have funded summer enrichment programs for low-income families and to promote vaping education campaigns to reduce the teen vaping rate in the state — one of the highest use rates in the United States.
While Polis supported the tax, the Colorado Senate killed the proposal. Due to the aggressive lobbying of large tobacco firms, the proposal, House Bill 1333, which was introduced in the last two weeks of 2019's legislative session, failed to gain any traction.
However now voters may have a say on the issue. Colorado has one of the lowest cigarette taxes in the country at 84 cents a pack. A new ballot measure would increase the tax on a range from $1.20 to $2.60. While not specifically addressing the way they would tax eLiquids and vaping related products, the bill would ideally have a disproportionately higher tax on combustible tobacco, to dissuade people from choosing smoking over vaping.
What do you think about this idea? Is it too radical to tax specifically to spend? Are there better things to do with the money? Should they avoid the tax increase in the first place?