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Vaness Cascio, left, her dog Lucy, and Leigh Ann Russell enjoy a walk on the Wonderland Lake Park Trailhead on Monday in Boulder.
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Boulder voters overwhelmingly approved a slate of initiatives to tax vaping products, fund open space for the next 20 years and institute a middle-income housing program, according to early unofficial results on Tuesday night.

Returns as of 10:20 p.m. showed each measure winning with a wide margin.

Issue 2G, a tax on tobacco vaping products, will institute a tax on “electronic smoking devices” and related products, including vape pens, cartridges, refills and other components that is expected to raise $2.5 million per year, or an up to 40% tax.

Early returns showed 2G passing with 81.33% of the vote as of 11 p.m. Tuesday.

Increasing the cost of tobacco products is one of the most effective ways to stop teenagers from using vaping products, said Jodi Radke, regional director for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Colorado has one of the highest youth usage rates of vaping products in the nation, Radke said, and public health officials have reported a sharp increase in vaping-related illnesses across the country.

“This is a notable step forward and we really appreciate Boulder voters understanding the connection between price and use rates among kids,” Radke said. “It’s good to see that people are tracking this issue, that it’s front and center for them and they’re supporting policies that they know will reverse the trend.”

Radke said she hopes the overwhelming voter support of 2G will prompt Boulder City Council to revisit raising taxes and instituting a flavor ban on all tobacco products.

Boulder’s open spaces will receive new funding with Issue 2H, which was passing with 84.65% of the vote on Tuesday night.

The measure extends a .15 cent transportation sales and use tax to fund the maintenance, restoration, acquisition and preservation of open space land. In the first year, money from the tax will be used to purchase a conservation easement at Long’s Gardens, an urban farm property on North Broadway.

Campaign Co-Chair Amanda Bickel said while she thought the measure would pass, she wasn’t expecting such overwhelming support from voters.

“It sends a really terrific, strong message about how much people in this city value open space, despite the fact there was some pushback,” she said. “This is so much at the heart of what makes Boulder, Boulder. I’m very glad that people are continuing to reaffirm that they care about it in a really big way.”

Issue 2I, which creates a middle-income housing program, was passing with 66.44% of the vote based on Tuesday’s early return.

The measure will increase city debt by up to $10 million to create a housing assistance program for middle-income families.

Boulder Councilman Bob Yates said he was “delighted and slightly surprised” to see the measure pass by such a wide margin because of how complicated the program is.

The program is aimed at middle-income families who work in Boulder but don’t live in the city, Yates said, and will provide an up to $200,000 loan for applicants to buy a house. Middle-income is defined as people who make up to 120% of the city’s median income.

Tied to the loan is an appreciation cap, so that the new owners cannot sell the home at a higher rate than the city’s median income increases.

So if the program can help 100 families buy houses with $100,000 loans, Yates said, those houses will have appreciation caps and remain affordable for future homebuyers.

“I think almost everybody would agree that it’s good for families to live near where they work because it shortens their commute, their kids can be enrolled in great Boulder schools and they can be a part of the community 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Yates said.

The program is separate from the growth debate in Boulder, Yates said, because it doesn’t involve building new houses.

“I’m delighted that people understand the program and are willing to support it,” Yates said. “It’s going to make a world of difference for those middle-income families.”

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