Coloradans have made great progress in limiting tobacco's toll.
But commercial tobacco still costs our state more than 5,000 lives and $2 billion each year.
Billions of dollars of misleading tobacco marketing have targeted
Cigarette ads featuring doctors.1
Ads linking smoking to female empowerment.2
And that rugged symbol of the American West - the Marlboro Man.3
By 1965, 42.4 percent of Americans smoked.4
And they smoked
But even at their peak, the tobacco industry had an inconvenient problem:
The product kills their customers so they need to constantly create new addicts.5
The tobacco industry's answer was to focus marketing on young people. One tobacco company called them "replacement smokers."
After all, 88% of smokers start before they turn 18.6
Teens start smoking most often in grades six through nine.7
We've come a long way, Colorado.
About 66,000 fewer Coloradans smoked cigarettes in 2018 compared to a decade earlier.
Tobacco contributes to the early death of roughly half of smokers. That decline means roughly 33,000 fewer people will die prematurely in the state. Because fewer people smoke and smokers are cutting back, Coloradans are smoking about 1 billion fewer cigarettes per year.
Today 12.4 percent of Colorado adults smoke and 3.3 percent of kids.
Restaurants, bars, and most workplaces are smoke-free. Yet tobacco still kills more than 5,100 Coloradans annually.
More people die every year from smoking than from murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes, and alcohol
Tobacco is a shapeshifter: As smoking declines, tobacco companies have turned to vaping to hook the next generation, with sweet flavors that appeal to kids.
After all, teens who vape are much more likely to start smoking regular cigarettes.9
Fortunately, we know what works to reduce tobacco's toll:
Colorado voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 35 in 2004, raising the price of tobacco and creating funding year after year to fight tobacco addiction.
The Colorado Legislature enacted the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act in 2006, snuffing out smoking in many workplaces and public places statewide.
Local communities have taken up the cause, from raising the legal age to buy tobacco to expanding smoke-free protections.
But the tobacco industry continues to profit, while Coloradans get stuck with the $1.89 billion a year tab to treat the diseases it causes.
That's an average of about $900 for every Colorado household.
Meanwhile, the tobacco industry still spends more than $125 million every year in Colorado10 to try to get you and your loved ones addicted to their products.
That's more than six times as much as the state spends on tobacco control.
Let's finish what we started.
Our vision is to eliminate tobacco use and all tobacco-related disparities from Colorado. It’s our mission to lead with justice to advance strategies that allow every Coloradan to have equitable access to opportunities to be healthy, to thrive, and to live a tobacco-free life, regardless of who they are or where they live.
This is where progress is made.
*From the collection of Stanford Research Into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising (tobacco.stanford.edu).