New Report Shows Colorado Falling Short on Tobacco Control Efforts to Fight Cancer

State-By-State Report Shows Colorado Must Increase Tobacco Taxes, Update Smoke-free Laws and Increase Tobacco Prevention Funding

August 9, 2018

DENVER, Colo.—Colorado falls short in implementing policies and passing legislation to reduce death and suffering from cancer, particularly when it comes to tobacco control, according to a new state-by-state report released today by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).  

The annual report "How Do You Measure Up? A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality" finds Colorado achieves the benchmark in just two of the nine public policy areas. The report shows Colorado falls short in four key areas of tobacco control proven to help reduce tobacco use, save lives and save money.

Specifically, the Centennial State earned a "red" or failing grade for its low cigarette tax – currently 84 cents per pack. Colorado also needs to update its statewide smoke-free law to include all electronic smoking devices and ensure all restaurants, bars and casinos across the state are smoke-free environments.

"I am really concerned about Colorado's tobacco ratings, which all show a lot of room for improvement," said RJ Ours, Colorado government relations director for ACS CAN. "Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in our state and smoking kills 5,100 Coloradans every year. Additionally, Colorado now tops 37 other states surveyed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for e-cigarette use among high school students, which is also very alarming. We need to make it easier for people to quit tobacco and prevent our kids from becoming addicted, and this report offers a great blueprint to help us achieve those goals."

How Do You Measure Up? rates states in nine specific areas of public policy that can help fight cancer, including increased access to care through Medicaid, funding for cancer screening programs, smoke-free laws, cigarette tax levels, funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, cessation coverage under Medicaid and restricting indoor tanning devices for minors. The report also looks at whether a state provides a balanced approach to pain medication and if it has passed policies proven to increase patient quality of life.

A color-coded system classifies how well a state is doing in each issue. Green shows that a state has adopted evidence-based policies and best practices; yellow indicates moderate movement toward the benchmark and red shows where states are falling short. 

To view the complete report and details on Colorado’s grades, visit  

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem.  ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit


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Media Contacts

RJ Ours
Colorado Government Relations Director
Noe Baker
Media Advocacy