Move to Raise Tobacco Use Age to 21 in Oregon

By Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, Special for  USDR

The Oregon House of Representatives today ratified previous action by the Oregon Senate in passing an historic Tobacco 21 bill. The bill was amended in the House Rules Committee to remove any language prohibiting possession of tobacco products for those under 21. SB 754 will need to return to the Senate floor for a concurrence vote before heading to the Governor’s desk; the end of session in Oregon is July 9. Governor Kate Brown has indicated her support for the measure that will raise the legal minimum sales age for all nicotine and tobacco products to 21. After Senate concurrence, with her action, Oregon will become the third state, after Hawaii and California to join this life-saving addiction prevention  effort.

“95% of all smokers take up the habit before age 21, and raising the age has been shown to reduce high school smoking by half,” said Eric Brodell, Western Regional Director of the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation. “In Oregon, alcohol and recreational marijuana sales are already set at age 21. Tobacco, which kills almost 500,000 Americans each year, is clearly more dangerous to kids. That’s why national polling shows 75% support for raising the age, including 70% of  smokers.”

Tobacco 21 has been a goal of the Oregon Legislature for the past three years. This session, Senator Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward and more than 15 co-sponsors pushed even harder and connected with a broad coalition of over 30 Oregon organizations representing physicians, nurses, hospitals, parents, teachers, students and service  unions.

“As a physician, I’m committed to passing legislation to improve the health and lives of Oregonians. That’s why I’m proud to be the chief sponsor of Senate Bill 754, which will prevent young people from a lifetime of tobacco and e-cigarette addiction,” said Senator Steiner Hayward. “If signed by the governor, this new law will go a long way to preventing cancer as well as heart and lung  disease.”

The Tobacco 21 for Oregon coalition and the Senator’s office worked closely together to develop campaign materials and create policy language that would be most effective for Oregonians. Additionally, testimony support was robust. Ranging from one of the world’s premier cancer doctors, Dr. Brian Druker, to high school students attempting to create a healthier future for them and their  peers.

Senate Bill 754 would go into effect on January 1, 2018. The delayed implementation date gives adequate time for Oregon residents, tobacco retailers, and current tobacco users under 21 to prepare for the policy  change.

SOURCE Preventing Tobacco Addiction  Foundation

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