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Aug 27, 2012 8:18 PM by Kate Richards

Colorado uses tobacco taxes on 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.

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