Smoking on decline in Colorado |

Smoking on decline in Colorado

Steven K. Paulson
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” The portion of Coloradans who smoke dropped from 22 percent in 2001 to 18 percent in 2006, putting the state in the nation’s top 10 for nonsmokers, Gov. Bill Ritter said Monday.

“This is great news for us as a state,” Ritter told a crowd of supporters who braved a brief hail storm on the steps of the Capitol to cheer the news. He cited statistics from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ritter said increased cigarette taxes have allowed the state to expand its education campaign, persuading more smokers to drop the habit.

In 2004, Colorado voters approved raising the tax on a pack of cigarettes from 20 cents to 80 cents. Taxes were also raised on cigars, pipe tobacco and other smoking products.

According to the state Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado rose from 14th in the nation to ninth in the lowest prevalence of adult smoking.

Among Colorado high school students, cigarette smoking declined from 18 percent in 2001 to 15 percent in 2006, surpassing a national goal of the CDC of 16 percent by 2010.

Ritter said tobacco use is a primary cause of heart disease, stroke, cancer and lung disease. He said the CDC estimates that tobacco use costs Coloradans $1.3 billion a year and kills an estimated 16,000 a year in this state.