Eagle County tobacco tax on its way to a landslide win
Passage of measure is a personal victory for Eagle Valley High School senior Lily Reynolds
- Yes: 6,556 (69%)
- No: 2,985 (31%)
EAGLE — In a pack of jubilant 1A supporters, Eagle Valley High School senior Lily Reynolds might have been the happiest person present.
From the first results reported shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday night through the second round released at 9 p.m., the Eagle County tobacco tax measure held strong with more than 69% of voters supporting 1A.
For Reynolds, it was a personal victory for a cause she has championed for two years. She became a strong local voice against youth vaping as she saw more and more of her classmates from EVHS succumb to the practice.
“I was seeing kids I have known since first grade get addicted,” said Reynolds. “It wasn’t just ‘those kids.’ It was everyone. I had friends who couldn’t make it through a class period without leaving to take a hit.”
“I just felt strongly this measure had to happen,” Reynolds said. “It was not being addressed as a problem.”
With 9,620 ballots counted as of 9 p.m. Tuesday night, the measure was leading 6,134 votes in favor to 2,801 opposed. That translated into a 69% to 31% margin of victory.
Ballot question 1A sought voter support for a hefty tax on tobacco and nicotine product sales — 20 cents per cigarette or $4 per pack and a 40% tax on the sale of all other tobacco and nicotine products. Tobacco-use cessation products such as nicotine patches and gum are exempt from the tax.
“It is such a victory for our community and our youth,” said Mandy Ivanov, Eagle County Public Health and Environment Policy and Partnerships Strategist during an election watch party in Eagle. “I am proud of our county that we are leading the charge to approve measures to reduce the impact of tobacco.”
The tobacco tax is one of three key elements the county has promoted to reduce tobacco and nicotine product use. The other actions include raising the legal purchase age to 21 years and instituting a licensing procedure for retail outlets who sell the products.
As they reflected on the strong support in Tuesday’s voting, the 1A team noted dozens of local youth were instrumental in publicizing the growing teen vaping issue.
“It has been their advocacy and volunteerism that brought this issue forward,” said Chris Lindley, chair of the Healthy Eagle County group.
Along with Reynolds, the 1A supporters recognized Gerry Lopez and Riley Dudley for their advocacy.
Reynolds noted her efforts to battle tobacco and nicotine product use happened because of her personal experiences, but she noted that like the Parkland kids in Florida, local youth are finding their voices when it comes to public debate. That’s a paradigm shift for teens, she said.
“I felt like a nerd to care about this. It’s nerdy to say ‘Yay. I care about public policy,” said Reynolds. “I am just really excited. I know all government work doesn’t happen this quickly or this overwhelmingly supportively.”
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