New Poll: Majority of Colorado Voters Support Increasing the Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21

57 percent favor passing a state law to raise the legal sale age to reduce smoking

Feb. 17 2014

DENVER, CO – A new poll released today shows that 57 percent of Colorado voters support legislation that would prohibit the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. Just 36 percent of voters oppose increasing the age of sale for tobacco products.

This support comes from a broad-based coalition of voters across the state, including 57 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of independents.

“Raising the age for sale of tobacco is a rare policy proposal that garners both broad and deep support across what are usually basic partisan cleavages in Colorado,” noted Paul Harstad, President of Harstad Strategic Research, the firm conducting the survey.

On Thursday, the Health Insurance and Environment Committee will consider House Bill 1263. “Now is the time for legislators to listen to the large majority of Colorado voters who want to raise the age of sale for tobacco products to 21 to reduce smoking among young people and save lives,” said Sen. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, one of the bill’s sponsors.

The poll also found that the majority of voters still support raising the sale age for tobacco to 21 even when they hear strongly worded arguments on both sides of the issue. After hearing the arguments on both sides, a solid 55 percent favor the increased age and only 40 percent oppose it. Harstad added, “Colorado voters clearly favor keeping cigarettes and other tobacco products away from young people under age 21.”  

The statewide survey of 502 voters was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The proposal to increase the sale age for tobacco is endorsed by a broad group of organizations across the state including the Colorado Medical Society, Colorado Children's Hospital, Colorado Hospital Association, Colorado Association of Local Public Health Officials, the March of Dimes and the American Lung Association in Colorado.

“In Colorado, tobacco kills more than 4,000 people each year and virtually all of them started using tobacco before age 21,” said Dr. Karen Wilson, Associate Professor at the Children's Hospital Colorado. “Since tobacco is so harmful, and youth, including those ages 18-21 are especially susceptible, we should do everything we can to prevent tobacco use among young people.  Raising the minimum legal sale age for tobacco products to 21 will lead to fewer youth and young adults becoming addicted to tobacco.

“Nearly all smokers start as kids or young adults, and these age groups are heavily targeted by the tobacco industry. National data shows that 95 percent of adult smokers begin smoking before they turn 21,” said Jodi Radke, Director of the Rocky Mountain/Great Plains Region at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Increasing the legal age of sale will help counter the efforts of the tobacco companies to target young people at a critical time when many move from experimenting with tobacco to regular smoking.”

The poll summary is available online.

The survey was conducted by landline and cell phone, using live interviewers, December 1-4, 2013 among a random sample of 502 active voters in Colorado. The overall sampling error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The survey was conducted by the polling firm Harstad Strategic Research based in Boulder, CO.

 

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