Nicotine Tax and OTP Tax Increase Defeated in Colorado’s Senate

Nicotine Tax and OTP Tax Increase Defeated in Colorado's Senate

Colorado’s Senate rejected Gov. Jared Polis’ proposed uniform nicotine tax. Colorado’s House Bill 19-1333 would have given voters the chance to approve a cigarette tax increase and also imposed a new nicotine tax. Democrats in the Colorado Senate overwhelmingly voted down the bill.

House Bill 19-1333 had opposition before it was formally introduced. The legislation was first announced on April 24, 2019 and had hopes of fast-tracking the bill to have it approved before the end of the legislative session back in April. Altria’s lobbying arm, however, got involved a week earlier and used social media platforms Facebook and Twitter to help rally people against the bill the day the proposed tax hike was announced. Altria owns Philip Morris and is a minor stakeholder in JUUL, the popular e-cigarette manufacturer. The tax hike would have negatively impacted Altria’s business and success in the state. In addition, Vapor Technology Association also hired lobbyist to oppose the bill.

Had it passed, House Bill 19-1333 would have left it to voters in November to decide if the tax on a pack of cigarettes should be raised from 84 cents to $2.49. It also would have set a standard 62 percent tax on all nicotine products, including e-liquids. An estimated $300 million in annual revenue from the tax was expected and those tax revenues would have been split between early childhood education efforts and health care needs.