Colorado law gives special treatment to cigarettes.

In Colorado if a locality chooses to license, assess a fee, or tax cigarettes, they incur a financial penalty from the state. Additionally, this penalty is assessed even if a locality chooses to attempt a tax through a citizen initiative or referred measure.

Because these localities have become reliant on the statewide tax to fund critical services, they are forced into choosing between keeping harmful and addictive cigarettes out of the hands of children or funding critical local services.

Due to the fiscal penalty, very few home-rule municipalities have attempted regulation to limit children’s access to cigarettes. Those municipalities who have attempted regulation face the hurdle of asking the voters to tax cigarettes in order to recoup the money they would lose when attempting licensure.


  • Colorado teens use e-cigarettes at twice the national average.
  • Even though taxing cigarettes and other nicotine products has been shown as one of the most effective ways to reduce teen usage, Colorado has one of the lowest statewide taxes on tobacco products in the country.
  • Localities know and recognize the issues their communities experience due to tobacco products, yet they face extraordinary barriers if they want to address those issues.

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