Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Colorado used tobacco taxes for smoking bans
DENVER (AP) - State auditors questioned whether the Colorado Department
of Health and Environment should be awarding money from tobacco taxes
to support local policy initiatives barring smoking in public.
A report Monday showed the department awarded $5.2 million to 140
grantees in 2010 and 2011 to help pass initiatives banning smoking in
areas beyond what's already prohibited by state law. The initiatives
targeted bans in places like restaurant patios, cigar bars, or housing
complexes where low-income people live.
Auditors recommended that the department ask for a legal opinion from
the state attorney general as to whether that's allowed. Department
officials say they're using the money appropriately.
The tobacco taxes fund education programs to prevent and treat smoking
addition. Like other states, Colorado has also used the money to help
balance the budget.