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Cigarette Sales Up In Colorado For First Time In A Decade

cigarette, smoking
Flickr via Raul Lieberwirth

Cigarette sales in Colorado are up for the first time in nearly a decade.

The decline in cigarette sales started in 2004. That’s when Colorado voters approved boosting the excise tax on a pack of cigarettes by 64 cents. 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said after that cigarette sales plummeted from around 300 million packs a year to a low of 193.2 million in 2014. 

However, last year sales ticked up by 1.1 million packs. 

Research finds tobacco price increases lead to a drop in consumption. However, health officials point out those increases lose their effectiveness roughly after seven years.

"Anytime you see a change in a trend, in a direction that we’d view as negative, it’s concerning," said Jess Harvat, who works in tobacco prevention at the state health department.  

In Colorado, nearly 16 percent of adults smoke. The state has seen a steady decline in smoking rates over the past 25 years.

"What are numbers seem to illustrate at this point is that less and less adults are smoking in the state, but those who are consuming tobacco products are consuming more of them than maybe they had in the past," said Harvat.

Health officials aren’t sure what’s driving those individuals to use more. And, the state health department said the climb in sales shows there’s still work  todo when it comes to getting people to quit.

Laura joined KVNF in 2014. She was the news director for two years and now works as a freelance reporter covering Colorado's Western Slope. Laura is an award-winning journalist with work recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists, Colorado Broadcasters Association, and RTDNA. In 2015, she was a fellow for the Institute for Justice & Journalism. Her fellowship project, a three-part series on the Karen refugee community in Delta, Colorado, received a regional Edward R. Murrow Award.
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