The tobacco industry's Colorado ballot measure

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Colorado Ballot Measure

In this 1994 Lorillard Tobacco Company company memo, James R. Cherry, Jr. (Associate General Counsel for Lorillard) describes the industry's strategy to defeat a citizen-led ballot initiative in Colorado to increase the tobacco tax and earmark funds for tobacco control. The industry's "alternative initiative strategy" involves placing a slightly smaller tobacco tax measure on the ballot whose funds are earmarked specifically to non-tobacco related programs that the industry feels are "worthy and attractive," in order to keep any money from going to tobacco control. Cherry says,

In Colorado [to fight the citizen-led 1994 tax proposal], our choices are three:

1) Mount a campaign in opposition to the proposition,

2) Gather petition signatures, qualify for the ballot and campaign for a competing proposition which, though it would involved volunteering for some additional tax, would be much less tax than one which would be earmarked for crime prevention (or some other worthy and attractive purpose), but not for antitobacco programs;

3) Do nothing and accept the tax and the activity it may fund.

The same strategy was used in 2004 to fight a citizen-led tax initiative in the same state: Colorado. Colorado citizens proposed a ballot measure to raise the cigarette tax by 64 cents per pack and put 16% of the funds toward tobacco control programs. After that effort became public, Colorado State Representative Bob Hagedorn introduced a competing bill (HB 1410) to raise the tobacco tax by 50 cents and fund a temporary Medicare drug discount card reimbursement program, children's health care and a state insurance plan called "Cover Colorado." Hagedorn's bill scrupulously avoided funding tobacco education and cessation, or other tobacco-related public health programs.

In the memo, Cherry acknowledges that, left alone, voters tend to vote approximately 70 to 30 percent in favor of measures regulating tobacco, and that the "immediate voter attitude" is that "the taxation of tobacco in order to fund health care is a proposition of almost mathematical elegance..." The memo discusses how the industry can overcome this huge number of voters favoring tobacco control measures.

Per. Author James R. Cherry, Jr.
Date 19940506
Bates 91814449/4451
Collection Lorillard
Pages 3