Up in smoke? | AspenTimes.com

Up in smoke?

Dear Editor:Here we go again! Does anybody remember the free-for-all, at the state level, with the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement against the tobacco industry? Colorado’s portion of the settlement money was to be used for local tobacco education, cessation, and treatment of tobacco-related illnesses. It ended up in the state’s general operating budget, closing some local programs completely, and funding others nominally. This past November, voters passed Amendment 35 – the tobacco excise tax – because they thought the money would come back into their individual communities to fund local tobacco prevention, education, and cessation programs. Many others voted for the tax because it is one of several strategies used to protect them from secondhand smoke. Additionally, others voted for the tax solely because they wanted children to be educated about the risks of using tobacco. And finally, some voters just wanted the tax monies used to help smokers quit. But that’s what we voted for. Evidently, our votes mean nothing.We now have the opportunity to operate our local tobacco prevention programs at levels that we know will make an impact. Gov. Owens’ plan doesn’t say anything about funding local programs, but a plan introduced by Rep. Betty Boyd and Sen. Bob Hagedorn ensures that the tobacco tax is used as voters intended. Please support these legislators in their attempt to spend the money on what the voters approved and fund local tobacco education and cessation programs.Shelley MolzExecutive DirectorValley Partnership for Drug Prevention

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