A bipartisan group of senators voted 19-8 on Thursday to raise the tobacco age to 21, matching the age of purchase and sale for alcohol and marijuana in Oregon.
The renewed push to require tobacco and nicotine sales to have a state retail license got off to a shaky start this week, with the hard-fought bipartisan compromise achieved in previous sessions replaced by a renewed political divide between the business community and state and county public heal
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.
Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham, and Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Portland, appear determined to push through a state law requiring a license to sell tobacco and e-cigarettes to the public, but they face opposition from unlikely quarters.
“We’re grateful for these resources but it’s still a quarter of what the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] recommends for tobacco prevention,” said Luci Longoria, health promotion manager for the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division.
Oregon’s Tobacco Reduction Advisory Committee started combing through a draft $19.7 million 2015-2017 budget, one that looks similar to the $19.8 million 2013-2015 budget with a few changes.
For the first time, Oregon will use all of its $158 million biennial tobacco master settlement for healthcare-related expenses, and not divert the money to pay for other projects.
It seems absurd on the surface. When the state passed its Clean Indoor Air Act in 2007, it gave an exception to cigar bars and other smoke shops that focus on tobacco to continue to light up in their businesses, so long as they were certified to sell primarily tobacco products and built a closed ventilation system to protect other businesses from hazardous secondhand smoke.
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Sen. Mark Hass has killed the tobacco control bills this session, telling The Lund Report that a lack of compromise on all fronts and division among stakeholders, even among those who were natural allies, had left him with nowhere to go.