Pitkin County tobacco tax is good for our health

I’m asking for your support of the tobacco sales tax, ballot question 1A, in your ballots mailed out Monday, or at the polls on Nov. 5.

I can tell you that current Colorado state tobacco tax is among the lowest in the U.S.; and, e-cigarettes are not taxed by the state of Colorado.

And I can tell you that 96% of tobacco addiction begins before age 21, and that tobacco is a major cause of lung, stomach and bladder cancer, a major risk factor for heart attacks, and the cause of most emphysema.

Most importantly, I can tell you that tobacco killed my father and is the reason I went to medical school. My father was a two-pack-a-day Lucky Strike smoker; and, despite many attempts to stop, once up to six months, triggers and cues were relentless in his resumption. He died of his third heart attack at age 52 shortly after learning that I was admitted to medical school.

So, I’ve outlived my father by 29 years. Citing his own experience, he strongly discouraged my taking up tobacco addiction.

Significant increases in tobacco taxes reduce tobacco use. In addition, funds collected will be directed toward preventive education in health care, mental health and the environment.

Dr. Tom Kurt

Vice chair, Pitkin County Board of Health