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Changes in Tobacco Law and Taxes Coming to Aspen
In November 2017, Aspen voters elected to put an additional $3 sales tax per 20-pack of cigarettes in City limits and change the purchase age of tobacco from 18 to 21 years old starting January 1, 2018. The tax will increase by $.10/year after that. The initial impetus to raise the purchase age of tobacco in Aspen came from Dr. Kimberly Levin, the Pitkin County Medical Officer. The measure was backed by City Council and nearly 75% of the voters approved the change. The goal is to reduce the number of young people starting to use tobacco. A 2015 Institute of Medicine study shows that raising the buying age to 21 predicated a 25% decrease in youth taking up the habit.
Now shops selling tobacco have one month to prepare for the change and buyers need to understand the tax implications. The financial implications of the new sales tax are:
Each local business selling tobacco and nicotine products must collect the tax at the point of sale in Aspen. In addition, there is a license fee of $500 for 2018 for any business selling these products. This is a new City of Aspen requirement. The license will be displayed for the public to see and will show the minimum age requirement for buying tobacco and nicotine. Other requirements of the license include: that all employees selling or stocking tobacco and nicotine be above 21 years old, salespeople must check the ID of buyers who appear under 30 years old, and storing the tobacco products out of direct reach from customers. This tax does not apply to smoking cessation products, as ruled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The City of Aspen will actively reach out to businesses who sell tobacco to assist in this transition.
All taxes collected annually will be dedicated to the City’s general fund and revenue will be used for health and human services, tobacco-related health issues, and addiction and substance abuse education and mitigation.
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