Bipartisan Senate Votes to Raise Tobacco Age to 21

Two Republicans joined all 17 Senate Democrats to make it illegal to sell tobacco to people under 21, creating a uniform standard for adult substances such as alcohol and marijuana. The bill hit a few obstacles in the Senate, but an easier passage is likely in the House, where seven Republicans have co-sponsored the measure.

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.

Monnes Anderson Push to License Tobacco Retailers off to Rocky Start

Senate Bill 235 backs away from a compromise that public health officials and business owners agreed upon in 2016, and the two sides may have to come together again to win a statewide licensing program that could pass the Senate, protecting minors from tobacco while easing business concerns about a patchwork of city, state and county regulations.

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

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.

Senate Wants Tobacco Licensing While House Goes for E-Cig Tax

Some tobacco vendors, including the Northwest Grocery Association, have pledged support for statewide licensing to avoid a patchwork of local ordinances, but licensing advocates are insisting on local control. Meanwhile, the House is debating a 50 percent retail tax on e-cigarettes and supplies.

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.

Tobacco Reduction Committee Passes Slender Budget, Expands Duties

Oregon’s Tobacco Reduction Advisory Committee approved a $19.7 million 2015-2017 budget, a little less than the $19.8 million in its 2013-2015 budget.

“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.

Fighting Tobacco use in Oregon Uphill Battle

CCOs will be held accountable starting next year for reducing tobacco use.

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.

Oregon Putting All Its Declining Tobacco Settlement Funds into Health Expenses

The state is still putting less than 10 percent of the money toward tobacco prevention that it receives from Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds after they agreed to settle a 1998 lawsuit to avoid a court ruling. The state received just $158 million from the tobacco companies, down almost 25 percent from a $208 million payout in 2011.

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.

Senate Votes to Stop Using Tobacco Prevention Dollars to License Smoke Shops

The Oregon Senate voted 16-13 to make smoke shops pay a user fee to cover the cost of their own licensure. Inspections and certification has been covered by diverting funds from tobacco prevention to ensure that cigar bars and other tobacco outlets are complying with their exception to the Oregon Indoor Clean Air Act.

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.

Tobacco Control Bills Are Dead, Clearing Way for County Tobacco Licensing

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A frustrated Sen. Mark Hass spiked two tobacco bills that had dominated his work in the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee after none of the stakeholders would reach a reasonable compromise. Now Multnomah County will likely move ahead with its own licensure program, with Benton and Lane counties possibly to follow.

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.


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