COVID-19 pandemic delays antismoking programs |

COVID-19 pandemic delays antismoking programs

Anna Stonehouse / The Aspen Times

FRISCO — The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed county and town officials from making much progress in their efforts to create new smoking cessation and prevention programs.

Last year, voters approved a new countywide tax on tobacco products in an effort to raise the price of the products and improve the health of the community. The tax revenue has been prioritized to help fund new smoking reduction and health initiatives around the county.

The county has made some headway in hiring a program coordinator to manage the effort, but other plans were forced to the back burner.

“The managers were trying to get together in June, but of course everybody’s world got turned upside down with COVID,” County Manager Scott Vargo said. “I know we all would have preferred to stay on track in terms of timing, but that was a real challenge for us.

“We are seeing some different needs within the community because of the impacts of the pandemic and associated shutdown. So there may be some use of those funds that would be tied to some of the programs we’re seeing as a need right now, that are related to the health and well-being of our community.”

Vargo said he and all of the town managers are planning a meeting this week to discuss how best to move forward, and that they hope to have a plan to push out to commissioners and town councils in the coming weeks.

There should be plenty of funds to go around. Vargo said that just under $1 million from the tax has been collected throughout the county so far this year.

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