Oregon Governor Kate Brown Celebrates 20 Years of Tobacco Prevention Successes in Lane County

OHA announces state tobacco prevention strategies during celebration at Cottage Grove High School

COTTAGE GROVE, Ore.----Oregon Governor Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) held a celebration this afternoon in Cottage Grove to mark 20 years of tobacco prevention successes in Lane County. Cottage Grove and Lane County were recognized for serving as a leader in tobacco prevention for the rest of the state. In March, Lane County became the first county in Oregon to pass a bill increasing the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21. 

OHA also announced their state tobacco prevention strategies moving forward, which will focus on raising the price of tobacco, protecting the Indoor Clean Air Act (ICAA), and protecting kids from tobacco. 

The event, held at Cottage Grove High School, specifically celebrated Oregonians' decision in 1996 to pass a ballot measure that increased the price of tobacco and dedicated a portion of tobacco tax sales revenue to prevention efforts. 

These public health initiatives, backed by Oregon voters, aim to keep kids and young people from starting to use tobacco, and to helping tobacco users quit. Since 1997, per capita cigarette pack sales have declined by more than 55 percent. 

Governor Brown thanked legislative champions and partners for their hard work over the years to keep Oregonians, particularly youth and young adults, safe from the harms of tobacco. She also presented an award to Oregon high school students who are members of the Youth Advisory Council (YAC) for their work to raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco to Oregon youth. The award, a Douglas Fir tree to be planted at Cottage Grove High School, symbolizes every Oregonian's right to breathe clean air free from dangerous tobacco smoke. 

"I'm thrilled to be here today to celebrate 20 years of tobacco prevention in Oregon," Governor Kate Brown said. "TPEP has supported critical community-driven programs that have helped build healthier communities across the state. Lane County has been pivotal in leading the way for our state in this effort. These programs are proof that when we work together, we can find solutions to create a healthier, more prosperous Oregon." 

Oregon has been a longtime leader in tobacco prevention. In 1998, Oregon launched the Tobacco Quit Line, the first state to offer over-the-phone help to tobacco users who want to quit, and in 2007, the state passed the ICAA, a smokefree workplace law that included bars, taverns, restaurants, bingo halls and bowling centers. In addition to the passage of Tobacco 21 in Lane County, other more recent statewide successes include Oregon passing a law making it illegal to smoke in a car with a minor present, and Oregon state parks going smokefree in 2014. 

"We've come a long way in two decades and consider these accomplishments a major win for public health in Oregon----but there's still work to be done," said Oregon Health Authority Public Health Director Lillian Shirley. "Tobacco is still the number one preventable cause of death and disease in Oregon, responsible for more than 7,000 deaths each year." 

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