Tobacco Reduction Advisory Committee eyes California’s proposed $2 tobacco tax

After playing mostly defense during Oregon’s 2016 legislative session to stop tobacco industry efforts to prevent communities from enacting their own efforts to curb tobacco use, the committee now is watching California’s efforts to raise taxes on tobacco and e-cigarettes.

David Hopkins of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is “optimistic” that California’s tobacco tax on the November ballot will be successful because the last attempt, in 2012, only narrowly failed. California’s tobacco tax now is just half the national average.

“I don’t think a state has ever passed a $2 tobacco tax, and it would be huge to Oregon’s momentum” if California is successful, said Courtni Dresser of the Oregon Medical Association.

Seven Oregon counties have received “added resources for surge capacity” to fund retail strategies that have either withstood or not faced legal challenges from the tobacco industry elsewhere, according to Sabrina Freewynn, community programs lead for the Public Health Division.

Deschutes, Lane and Multnomah counties are exporing the possibility of raising the minimum legal sale age of tobacco products to 21, while Multnomah County is exploring prohibiting new tobacco and nicotine retailers within 1,000 feet of public and private schools.

Klamath, Umatilla and Marion counties hope to adopt a variety of retail licensing strategies such as adequte licensing fees for enforcement, and Umatilla County also wants to eliminate the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies.

Crook County just hopes to get the conversation started by passing an ordinance requiring the posting of Quitline information in stores.

The Oregon Health Authority also is funding grants for CCOs, clinical practices and local public health organizations to work together to deal with hypertension, diabetes and cancer by encouraging tobacco cessation, Freewynn told the committee.

Jan can be reached at [email protected].

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